Either they are lying to the Supreme Court or Parliament. In their affidavit filed the apex court, four states have claimed no deaths took place in police custody from 2007 to 2009.
But, this admission on oath is contrary to the records placed before Parliament by then minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken in December 2009.
The glaring discrepancy in the affidavits filed by West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were brought to the apex court's notice on Friday by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Appearing as an amicus curae in a matter related to framing of guidelines Singhvi said: "There is great diversion regarding figures mentioned in the affidavit and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) record that was placed before Parliament by the minister. NHRC collects the information from the state governments itself."
While reading out the affidavits, Singhvi said Punjab in its affidavit claimed not even a single police custody death took place, while the NHRC record states 12 deaths were reported during the relevant period.
Reading out the Madhya Pradesh affidavit, Singhvi said only one death took place in the state in 2007. "To add insult to the injury, the government paid a paltry sum of R500 to the victim's family and only one increment of the erring police official was stopped. NHRC, however, states that 25 persons died in police custody," Singhvi informed the bench of Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar.
West Bengal, too, has claimed no custodial deaths. But, the NHRC record for 2007, 2008 and 2009 stated that 19 deaths were reported in total.
Singhvi further pointed out that though three states, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra had admitted to the deaths, the figures disclosed in their affidavits did not match the NHRC record. "The details given by Maharashtra government closely match to the NHRC figures," he added.
Taking note of the alleged misrepresentation of facts, the bench asked Singhvi to submit his recommendations and also give suggestions as to what directions could the court give to prevent police custody deaths. It has fixed March 4 for further hearing.