Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya has issued a statement on loan default charges.Reuters

Looks like the abysmal state of prisons in India would work in the favour of tainted businessmen like Vijay Mallya, who is currently in the UK avoiding prosecution in India. A recent report has suggested that people wanted for crimes in India but seeking refuge in other countries might avoid extradition until India improves the living conditions in prison for those prosecuted in the country.

According to a report by a human rights organisation, around five people die every day in custody in India's jails.

The report, 'Torture Update India' was released on Tuesday on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR). Between April 1, 2017, and February 28, 2018, there were 1,674 custodial deaths — 1,530 deaths in judicial custody and 144 deaths in police custody.

"This means that in 11 months (334 days), there were on average five custodial deaths during 2017-18. This is a significant increase compared to the period from 2001- 2010, during which there were 14,231 deaths, which comes to around four deaths per day," says the report.

Following are the states with the highest number of custodial deaths

  • Uttar Pradesh - 374
  • Maharashtra - 137
  • West Bengal - 132
  • Punjab - 128
  • Madhya Pradesh - 113
  • Bihar - 109

Nothing exemplifies torture than deaths in police and prison custody and horrible detention conditions which are totally incompatible with human dignity and amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," it says.

ACHR says that to address the issue India must ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) and introduce the Prevention of Torture Bill of 2017, drafted by the Law Commission of India, before the Parliament during the monsoon session.

"Ratification of UNCAT will significantly ease the extradition of fugitives sought by India who are hiding abroad. UNCAT prohibits extradition requests if it is feared that the person whose extradition is being sought will be in danger of being tortured after he lands in a jail in India," says the report.

Police beating
[Representational image]Creative Commons

ACHR highlighted the cases of Kim Davy and Sanjiv Chawla, whose extradition was sought by India but it failed in this quest. Davy is an accused in the infamous Purulia arms drop case of 1995 while Chawla is an alleged cricket bookie in the UK.

In both cases, Denmark and UK, where they were residing refused India's request on the ground that prison conditions in India and the way the prisoners were treated was degrading and inhuman and this amounted to torture and that India had not ratified UNCAT," the report says.

The report warns that unless India doesn't remove legal obstacles by ratifying UNCAT, it may lose other extradition requests too.

"Putting pressure on governments of countries where these fugitives are hiding will not bear fruit because like Government of India, they can't interfere in matters which are in court and financial fugitives will keep mounting legal challenges at every step," concludes the report.

Now that is surely music to the ears for the likes of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.