Chennai, Jan 31 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government today informed the Madras High Court that 157 cases of custodial deaths were reported in the southern state from 2012 to 2016, of which 134 cases were concluded based on judicial magistrate reports.

An inquiry in another 23 is yet to be concluded, the government said.

Principal secretary to the home department made the submissions on a suo motu plea initiated by the court in view of a Supreme Court directive.

The object of the suo motu proceeding is to identify the next of kin of deceased prisoners, whose deaths from 2012 to 2015 was classified as “unnatural” by the National Crime Records Bureau, for award of suitable compensation.

The apex court had on September 15, 2017 said effort of constitutional courts in safeguarding the dignity of the individual, particularly against custodial violence, will continue as long as Article 21 (Right to protection of life and personal liberty) remains in the constitution.

The apex court had also directed all high courts to initiate such suo motu proceedings to identify and compensate the victims of custodial deaths.

When the plea came up for hearing on January 29, the state made the submissions through an affidavit before the first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose.

Recording the submissions, the bench said the inquiry should be expeditiously concluded and if it was found that the next of kin are entitled to the compensation, it shall be released at the earliest, not later than four months.

It then posted the plea to June 8 for further filing of a status report.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.