The role of National Humans Rights Commission into custodial deaths in Delhi has been questioned by People’s Union for Democratic Rights in its latest report on the subject.
The report which has examined 10 cases of custodial deaths in the Capital from 2016-2018 claimed that the National Humans Rights Commission (NHRC) has been unable to effectively discharge its functions.
“In 2001, NHRC asked States to send reports of custodial deaths within two months of the incident. Several questions concerning the direction remain unanswered. To what extent are these guidelines followed? If not followed, what measures is the commission taking to deal with it?” the report questioned.
The report said that the commission has “largely failed” in following the cases of custodial deaths in Delhi and in the cases followed by PUDR’s fact finding team, the NHRC has asked for reports “but has never received any replies”.
The report pointed out a particular incident in 2017 where a man identified as Anil was allegedly killed by his neighbour Vishal inside Ambedkar Nagar police station when two officers on duty left the victim and accused alone in the room. Two police officers were suspended for negligence.
“The NHRC had taken cognisance in the case and was supposed to be given a report by the Deputy Inspector General of Police within 8 weeks. While we were unable to meet the Metropolitan Magistrate, we were told that the the policemen were given a clean chit,” the PUDR report said.
According to the report, the NHRC did not follow up on the case and the fact finding team said “Is the police not following the guidelines or is the NHRC not vigilant enough? We have no way of knowing the answer.”
In one of the cases reported from Mangolpuri in 2017, the NHRC was allegedly given the report on custodial death a year later; in another case reported from Ghazipur in 2016, it hasn’t been updated at all despite writing to police officers concerned. The team led to conclude that “neither the police nor the NHRC seem to be committed to stopping custodial violence and deaths”.
In its report, the PUDR demanded that State should grant compensation to the families of victims of custodial death and the police personnel implicated in the cases be arrested and prosecuted after an independent and fair investigation. It also demanded that Metropolitan Magistrate’s inquiry and report into the cases of custodial deaths be made public.