New Delhi, Aug 25: Right to life is an often debated subject and the Supreme Court of India has taken up the matter over and over again. Keeping this in the backdrop, it is quite shocking to see a report which suggests that between the year 2004 to 2014, there have been 130,407 incidents where the Right to Life has been violated.
These include crimes against women, custodial deaths and loss of life in Naxal affected areas.
A report titled The State of the Right to Life in India by the Asian Centre for Human Rights states that due to the failure of the respective state governments, Right to Life today is probably most violated. This report gives out the statistical data which paints a shocking picture.
Right to Life violated:
In the last 10 years from 2004-2005 to 2013-2014, as per official records the right to life of at least 130,407 persons or 1,086 persons per month were violated either by the State agencies or caused by the failure of the State agencies to fulfill their responsibilities to prevent violations.
The majority of the victims are women (80,947) followed by victims of custodial deaths (16,465), encounter deaths (10,900), deaths in police firing (2,527), deaths of 10,219 civilians in militancy/Naxal related violence, deaths in caste related violence (8,138) and deaths in communal violence (1,211).
From 2004-2005 to 2013-2014, this report counts 16,465 cases of custodial death (with 1,389 deaths in police custody, 15,076 deaths in judicial custody and 23 cases of death in the custody of the army and the central paramilitary forces); 10,900 deaths in "encounters" (1,654 deaths involving police and 9,246 deaths involving the armed forces and para-military forces, of which 4,005 in Jammu and Kashmir, 3,650 in the North East and 1,591 in the Naxal affected areas); and 2,527 deaths in police firing.
Falure to protect the vulnerable:
The State's failure to safeguard the right to life of individual citizens, particularly those belonging to vulnerable groups, during the same period also resulted in the death of 80,947 women (79,404 dowry killings and 1,543 killings of those suspected of witchcraft); 10,219 civilians in militancy/Naxal related violence; 8,138 (1,646 Scheduled Tribes and 6,492 Scheduled Castes) in identity-related violence; and 1,211 persons in communal violence.
The report stated that impunity is the root cause for violations of the right to life. In the highly unusual situation that an independent and timely investigation is secured and a charge-sheet filed against State security force personnel, prosecution is virtually impossible to pursue since Section 6 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) stipulate that prior permission must be sought from the government.
There are well-known cases in which prosecution has stopped for want of permission from the government to prosecute the accused. "Unless impunity is addressed, the violations of the right to life cannot be effectively reduced, says Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.