Custodial Death

What is Custodial Death?

Custodial death means the death of a person occurring during custody, directly or indirectly caused by and substantially attributable to acts committed upon the deceased while in custody. It includes death occurring in police, private or medical premises, in a public place or police or another vehicle, or jail.

Custodial Crime

Arrest of a person leads to custody, which provides a possible opportunity for the commission of a crime against the person in custody. Commission of a crime by a public servant against the arrested or detained person while in custody amounts to a custodial crime.

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Reason behind Custodial Deaths

  • Custodial Death is the concept where any arrested person died in police custody due to the torture done by any police or officer in charge of such custody, the custody may be police custody or magistrate custody.
  • Civil rights lawyers, NGOs, and former police officers working in this area believe that not all death in judicial custody is the result of torture or beatings and that some can be attributed to ailments or medical negligence. But those in police custody tend to be the result of violence.
  • Pressure on the police too quick disposal of cases.

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Recent Custodial Deaths (Tamilnadu)

Chennai Man Who Died After Arrest Had 13 Different Wounds.

 The man, Vignesh, was arrested on April 18 over alleged possession of marijuana. He died the next day. While police claim Vignesh died after suffering a seizure, the family and human rights activists allege he was tortured. The postmortem report reveals contusions in several body parts, including his head, above the eyes, cheek, and arms. Sensational CCTV footage shows two cops chasing Vignesh as he stumbles and falls. The cops later arrest the man and beat him once with what appears to be a police baton. The state government had transferred the investigation to the CB-CID.

The custodial death of P. Jeyaraj and Bennicks. 23 JUNE 2020.

P. Jeyaraj and his son Bennicks were arrested by Sathankulam police on 19 June 2020 for allegedly keeping their cell phone store open past the Covid-19 lockdown timings. They were tortured in custody.

Bennicks died on 22nd June 2020 and P.Jeyaraj on 23rd June 2020.

Legal Provisions against Custodial Torture in India


Section 24- Confession caused by inducement, threat, or promise, when irrelevant in a criminal proceeding.

Section 25- No confession made to a police officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offense.

Section 26- No confession made by any person whilst he is in the custody of a police officer unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate Ist, shall be proved as against such person.


Section 50- Person arrested to be informed of grounds of arrest and right to bail.

Section 50 A- Obligation of the person arresting to inform about the arrest, etc., to a nominated person.

Section 56- Person arrested to be taken before Magistrate or officer in charge of the police station.

Section 57- A person arrested is not to be detained for more than twenty-four hours.


Section 348 ‚Äď Wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel restoration of property.

Section 376 A- Punishment for causing death or resulting in a persistent vegetative state of the victim.


Over the last 20 years, 1,888 custodial deaths were reported across the country, 893 cases registered against police personnel, and 358 personnel charge-sheeted. But only 26 policemen were convicted in this period, official records show.


Most of the custodial/lockup deaths are happening due to pressure given to police people by the higher official to end up the pending cases. So most of the innocent people are from poor family backgrounds, below the poverty line, and those uneducated or socially backward are getting in trouble. Police are beating the person to death so person can accept the crime; he may surrender because of the torture. Arresting or detaining a person does not lead to the extinction of all the fundamental rights. The right to life and dignity is one such right that cannot be deprived of any human being.

About The Author

Niranjan is pursuing his degree in Forensic Science from School of allied health Sciences, VIMRF-DU, Salem, Tamilnadu

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