M A I N   N E W S

Custodial deaths fifth highest in Punjab: NHRC
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
It seems that the custodians of law are sleeping over the number of custodial deaths. If we go by the figures revealed by the National Human Rights Commission in their annual report recently, it clearly show that the men in khaki have not been able to keep a tab on the rising number of deaths in custody.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list of custodial deaths as per the latest NHRC figures. Surprisingly, out of the 277 custodial deaths in the state, 18 were in police custody while 259 in judicial custody. And this is despite the fact that when an accused is in judicial custody of the police, he cannot be interrogated.

And UP is not the only state where the number deaths in judicial custody are high. In almost every state, number of deaths in the judicial custody are higher than those in the police custody.

However, according to police officials, a large number of deaths in custody are natural deaths and the officials concerned cannot be held guilty for it.

Considering the data from 2000 to 2004, the count of custodial deaths has almost doubled in these four years. Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh follow UP in this dubious distinction. Punjab ranks fifth in terms of custodial deaths with the minimal death rate of 2.04 in 2003.

Though the death count in AP is noticeably low, the death rate in this state is very high which is as high as 8.9 in 2003-04 and it is followed by Maharashtra.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) had recently directed the Punjab government to give compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the family Jaswant Singh, an inmate who died in custody. The commission revealed that the inmate died due to consumption of a poisonous substance and thus the state was held responsible his death.

According to the chairperson of the PSHRC, Justice R.S. Mongia: “One of the reasons for death of an inmate is poor facilities in the jail. The medical facilities in jails are not sufficient leading to deterioration of their health. The inmates may also get frustrated and tend to commit suicide also.” Overall, there were 1,591 deaths of inmates in judicial custody while 139 died in police custody.



Meanwhile, varsity status for Phillaur police academy
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, March 21
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced that local Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy would be accorded the status of state university, which would be the first university for police training in the country. He asked director of the PPA R.S. Gill to submit a proposal in this connection within 15 days.

Addressing the passing-out parade of the academy, the Chief Minister said: “After quickly working out the project implementation details with the home secretary, finance secretary and the DGP, the state will have the university functional within three months. You people should immediately work out the course contents.”

Explaining details later, it was pointed out that the need for a university status for the academy was felt to create independent work standards. At the moment, the academy is associated with Guru Nanak Dev University and “there is a vast difference in the academic requirements of a university when put to practical use on ground of a police training academy”.

Badal asked DGP N.P.S. Aulakh to put in place the implementation of the once-a-week holiday for the police personnel in the state. He said he had dwelt upon the subject and would ask the authorities to implement the order at the earliest. He said the state had decided to appoint 21 law officers, process for which had already been initiated.

Gill, in his speech earlier, pointed out that the academy had only two law officers against a required strength of 32.

Badal announced that a sum of Rs 2 crore would be released in April for various developmental activities on the campus.

Responding to the demand about the academy school needing care, the Chief Minister announced Rs 25 lakh out of the state education fund or his discretionary fund, whichever was possible.

Gill said 2,345 trainees of different ranks from Bhutan, Maldives, Chandigarh and Special Security Bureau completed their training. Yeshay T. Phuntsho from Bhutan was adjudged the best cadet. Choki Phuntsho, from Burma, was the all-round second.



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