Fresh guidelines issued regarding intimation of Custodial Death

In order to streamline the procedure in form, intimating the details of custodial deaths, the Commission has issued fresh guidelines to all State Governments.

The Commission had issued general instructions in 1993 that within 24 hours of occurrence of any custodial death, the Commission must be informed about it. This information was to be followed with a Post-mortem Report, Magisterial Inquest Report/Videography Report of the postmortem etc. However, it was found that there were considerable delay in sending these reports, which further delayed the processing of cases of custodial violence in the Commission and the awarding of interim relief wherever, prima-facie, there was reason to conclude that custodial death had taken place due to custodial violence. Of the total number of cases of death in police custody reported in the period 1999-2000, the maximum number of cases for which inquiry reports are still awaited are - 28 from Maharashtra, followed by 19 from West Bengal, 17 from Uttar Pradesh, 12 from Madhya Pradesh, 11 from Andhra Pradesh, 11 from Assam, 11 from Gujarat, 10 from Punjab and 9 from Tamil Nadu. On the whole, out of a total of 177 cases of death in police custody, registered in the period 1999-2000, the Commission is yet to receive the full reports in 165 cases. As regards deaths in judicial custody, the maximum number of reports are awaited from Bihar – 112, followed by 89 from Maharashtra, 61 from Andhra Pradesh, 41 from Tamil Nadu, 39 from Rajasthan, 38 from Punjab. 916 cases of deaths in judicial custody were registered in the Commission during the period 1999-2000, of which reports have been received in 396 cases and are awaited in 520.

The Commission has thus now instructed that all reports including post-mortem, videograph and magisterial inquiry reports must be sent within two months of the incident. The postmortem reports have to be sent in a new proforma, designed by the Commission, which has already been circulated to all the concerned authorities. Further, in every case of custodial death, a magisterial inquiry has also to be conducted as directed by the Commission; it should be completed as soon as possible and in such a way that it is also made available within the deadline of two months set by the Commission.

In some cases of custodial death, and after the post-mortem, the viscera are sent for examination and a viscera report is called for. However, the viscera report takes some time in being received. The Commission has therefore clarified that the post-mortem reports and other documents should be sent to the Commission without waiting for the viscera report, which should be sent subsequently as soon as it is received.

These instructions were sent in a letter addressed to the Home Secretaries of all States/Union Territories, all Directors General of Prison and all Directors General of Police by Shri N. Gopalaswami, Secretary General of the Commission, on 5 January 2001