NEW DELHI:: The Centre on Wednesday denied reports of an increase in custodial deaths in the country.

In a written reply in Rajya Sabha regarding reports of increasing custodial deaths, the Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said, “No such increasing trend has been noticed.”

He quoted the “Prison Statistics India 2019 report published by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), and said, the report mentions 1775 deaths in Prisons for the year 2019. “The data is uploaded by the respective State/ Union Territories and NCRB has a limited role of collating and publishing this data,” he said.

The Minister noted that “Police”, “Public Order” and “Prisons” are state subjects in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

“It is for the respective State Governments to take steps to curb these deaths. The Ministry of Home Affairs and theNational Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issue advisories from time to time to ensure the protection of human rights,’ he said.

Further, Rai said that pursuant to the guidelines issued by the NHRC every death in custody, police or judicial, natural or otherwise, is to be reported to the Commission within 24 hours of its occurrence.

“If an enquiry by the Commission into custodial death discloses negligence by a public servant, the Commission recommends to authorities of Central/State governments initiation of proceedings for prosecution against the erring public servant. Disciplinary action against the erring public servant is to be taken by the respective state government as per extant rules, procedures, etc,” added the Minister.