At least 24 persons died in police custody between January 2008 and March 2009, the state government admitted before the Bombay high court on Wednesday. Of these, 15 were attributable to either negligence or atrocities committed by policemen concerned.
Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol submitted an affidavit in response to a public interest litigation raising concern about increasing custodial deaths.
The PIL was filed two years ago by a city-based social organisation, Indian Centre for Human Rights and Law.
During a hearing in January 2011, counsel for the petitioner organisation, Mihir Desai, pointed out that 192 persons had died in Maharashtra between 2001 and 2009.
Desai had specifically invited the court’s attention to the fact that details of 24 custodial deaths between January 2008 and March 2009 were not furnished by the home department.
Acting on his plea, the court had sought details of investigation in these 24 cases.
Pol submitted an affidavit of SC Mondkar, deputy secretary, home, stating that inquiry pertaining to the custodial death cases, except one, was almost complete.
It was found that eight out of the 23 persons died due to natural causes, but the deaths of the remaining 15 were attributable to negligence or violence on part of the police personnel.
A division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice RG Ketkar, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the affidavit and directed the prosecutor to tender fresh affidavit with additional information.