Encounter killings of persons in custody often take place with the police records showing the person as released.
This is part of a note of recommendations by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi to be presented before the Supreme Court on November 5.
Mr. Singhvi is the court’s amicus curiae in a 28-year-old PIL petition filed by D.K. Basu, highlighting the need for police reforms and the plight of victims of custodial violence and the sufferings of the families of those who died in custody.
A Bench led by Justice T.S. Thakur had asked Mr. Singhvi to collate data from various States, sift through their responses on custodial deaths and their laws and come up with recommendations for the court.
“Encounter killings of persons in custody often take place with the person being shown in the books as having been released from custody and thereafter taken to a forest or secluded place or railway line and killed. Since the death takes place outside the four walls of the police station, and after alleged release from custody, it is not reported as custodial death,” the note says.
It proposes that in order to “plug this loophole,” the term ‘custodial death’ should be expanded to include all unnatural deaths of persons within 24 or 48 hours of their release.
Further, the amicus curiae recommends to the court to order mandatory initiation of criminal proceedings for murder/culpable homicide once the preliminary enquiry establishes guilt or negligence.
Other recommendations include constitution of human rights courts in districts under Section 30 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, installation of CCTV cameras covering all angles in police stations and prisons within six months and filling existing vacancies in State Human Rights Commissions within three months.
The amicus curiae suggests that the State governments appoint independent and non-official persons to conduct regular and random inspection of police stations and prisons.
“The inspection should include speaking to the inmates and examining the CCTV footages to ascertain if any custodial violence is taking place,” the note says.