Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 03.32 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday pulled up the state government for repeated instances of custodial deaths and asked what it was doing to prevent them.

A division bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice A P Bhangale was hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2008 by the India Centre for Human Rights and Law ( ICHRL).

ICHRL’s advocate Rebecca Gonsalves told the court that there were 250 custodial deaths between 2001 and 2011. “Maharashtra leads with the highest number. Three days ago, there was a custodial death in Mumbai,” she said, referring to the case of a suspected thief who died in the lock-up ofChembur police station after allegedly banging his head against the wall.

The judges asked additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai what precautions the government had taken and whether it had issued any directives to avoid such deaths. “What change had been brought in the administration to prevent such incidents from happening again and again,” asked Justice Khanwilkar.

The judges have directed the secretary (special) of the home department to file a personal affidavit disclosing the “precautionary measures and preventive mechanisms” introduced by the government since the court took cognizance of the issue in 2008.

The judges also directed that in case no credible steps have been taken by the government, it must define an action plan and place it before the court at the next hearing on April 4.