Kerala worse than Bihar in police brutality, says NHRC data

Custodial deaths increased by over 100% in 2018-2019; strict monitoring of cops sought

Published: 27th February 2020 06:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th February 2020 09:40 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Kerala is worse than Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Punjab when it comes to police brutality on people under custody.

Despite tall claims by police higher-ups that strict action will be initiated against the officers resorting to third-degree methods on people in custody, the number of police custodial deaths in Kerala has witnessed over a hundred per cent rise in 2018-19 from 2017-18.

As per the data of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Kerala has recorded eight police custodial deaths in 2018-19 while it was three in 2017-18 and five in 2016-17.

Kerala has more number of police custodial deaths in 2018-19 as compared to states like Andhra Pradesh (five cases), Karnataka (seven), Assam (five), Bihar (five), Punjab (five), West Bengal (five), Chhattisgarh (three) and Jharkhand (three).

Only five states are ahead of Kerala in the number of police custodial deaths and they are Gujarat (13), Madhya Pradesh (12), Uttar Pradesh (12), Maharashtra (11) and Tamil Nadu (11).

Eminent jurists say the only way to prevent police brutality is to ensure a fool-proof system wherein actions of police officers are strictly monitored and punitive action taken, including immediate dismissal from service, against the erring police personnel. 

Meanwhile, the judicial custody death cases in Kerala has fallen to 33 in 2018-19 from 38 in 2017-18 and 48 in 2016-17.

After March 2019, two more police custodial deaths were reported in Kerala.

While one was reported in June 2019 when a person identified as Rajkumar of Idukki was allegedly tortured to death at Nedumkandam police station, Ranjith Kumar, a native of Malappuram, died in the custody of Excise in October 2019. 

Probe by independent agency 

Kerala High Court retired Justice Kemal Pasha said an independent agency is a must to probe cases related to police brutality.

“There is no point in the police wing probing a case against police personnel involved in-custody deaths.  This is the major drawback that results in the real accused escaping punishment.  All police custodial death cases should be immediately handed over to a third-party agency like Central Bureau Investigation (CBI),” he said.

Misusing powers

Kerala State Human Rights Commission former chairman Justice J B Koshy said during his tenure as the chairman, there were even a couple of incidents in which the police had recorded the arrest of the accused after keeping the person in custody for days just for torturing.


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