Custodial torture - Can you trust the police?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Custody is a familiar term that we come across when we talk about justice. Even though it is related to law and order, the expression custody has not been defined under any law.

• But section 167 of CrPC deals with the term custody as a detention for the arrested who is unable to be produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours, such person shall be produced before the nearest Judicial Magistrate and when that Magistrate thinks it fits to detain such a person in custody, he could order it to the investigation officer. Thus, whenever an accused is left for custody, it is then the responsibility of the investigation or police officer, his safety, and security.

• The purpose of keeping a person in custody is to keep him away from society for the protection of citizens and to avoid his further commission of the offense. But actually what happens there? We are becoming familiar with custodial torture and deaths. Can we truly trust the Police officer in charge of the accused under custody? It is yet a question to be answered. Through this article, we try to find an answer for it.

As discussed above, custody could be considered as the responsibility of the police to take care of the accused charged with an offense till he is tried and produced before Magistrate or till he becomes conspicuous of the offense. We have often heard about the case of KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Custody is a familiar term that we come across when we talk about justice. Even though it is related to law and order, the expression custody has not been defined under any law.

• But section 167 of CrPC deals with the term custody as a detention for the arrested who is unable to be produced before a Magistrate within 24 hours, such person shall be produced before the nearest Judicial Magistrate and when that Magistrate thinks it fits to detain such a person in custody, he could order it to the investigation officer. Thus, whenever an accused is left for custody, it is then the responsibility of the investigation or police officer, his safety, and security.

• The purpose of keeping a person in custody is to keep him away from society for the protection of citizens and to avoid his further commission of the offense. But actually what happens there? We are becoming familiar with custodial torture and deaths. Can we truly trust the Police officer in charge of the accused under custody? It is yet a question to be answered. Through this article, we try to find an answer for it.

As discussed above, custody could be considered as the responsibility of the police to take care of the accused charged with an offense till he is tried and produced before Magistrate or till he becomes conspicuous of the offense. We have often heard about the case of George Floyd who died in the USA, Jayaraj, and Benicks in Tamil Nadu. This created a rose of concerns and protests regarding the custodial tortures and deaths of the accused.

WHAT IS CUSTODIAL TORTURE? IS THERE ANY LAW REGARDING TO IT?

The term custodial torture has not been defined under any law, but it has been considered as a tactic used for investigation officers to gets information regarding the case from the alleged accused in custody. These tactics were used in a lighter way which may cause lighter effects on the accused, but nowadays it became crucial and had grievous effects on the accused resulting in their deaths or permanent injuries. After the case of George Floyd, the USA introduced a Police Reform Bill having a register to record all the misconduct of officers.

In India, Anti-Torture Bill was discussed many times but not yet passed. It was a law made by the UN on UN Conventions Against Torture in 1975. Thus, India being a member of the United Nations, presented a bill called Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 under which if, Public servant torture any person in his custody, he shall be punished under this Bill.

REPORTS ON CUSTODIAL DEATHS

- In the last five years (2015-2019) about 36% of deaths in police custody have been reported as suicides and in 2019 81% reported either death by suicide (39%) or by illness/death in hospital (42%) .

- The National Crime Report Bureau(NCRB) reported custodial deaths in India during the year 2019 as 85 deaths while in 2018 it was 70 deaths.

- Annual Report of National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) says that 1,737 persons had been died in 2019, with at least 5 death per day.

- Out of this, 125 died in Police custody and others under judicial custody.

• Out of 125, 74.4% (93) died during police custody due to torture or foul play;
• 19.2% (24) died under suspicious circumstances in which police claimed it to be either suicide (16), illness (7), or injuries (1).
• 4% (5)were reported as unknown.

- Uttar Pradesh is being the State at the top of the list of several custodial death due to torture.

- Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) reported 7,468 people alleged to have died in custody, an average of 1,494 people per year or 4 people per day .

SOME CASES REPORTED

1. Nilabati Behra Alias Lalit v. State of Orissa ans Ors .

Petitioner’s son was arrested by the Asst. Sub-Inspector of Police with an investigation of an offense of theft and was detained under police custody. He was later heard to be dead in the custody. He had bodily injuries and his body was found on the railway track. The Hon’ble Supreme Court compensated them with money.

2. Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra .

This case was also called as Mathura Rape case. It was a popular case of custodial rape of a girl named Mathura, at the police station by two policemen. The girl had a love affair with a boy named Ashok, had a sexual relationship with him, and was willing to marry each other. But Mathura’s brother complained that she had been kidnapped by Ashok and his family and seek help from the station. The Police officers brought Mathura to the station and took her to an isolated room alone with two policemen who were alleged to have committed rape against her. The Court held that, there were no penetration and bodily injuries which shows that she didn’t resist and consented to that. Thus, the officials were acquitted.

SUGGESTIONS

Despite of reported cases of custodial tortures, rapes, deaths, etc. no law has been passed yet to control this cruelty. Even the UN made a law on passing of Anti-Torture Bills, and even it has been introduced in the Parliament in 2010, it had no further progress towards implementation. Section 144B of Indian Evidence Act states the accountability of police officials on custodial deaths or tortures. It is hence required to be codified, certain laws regarding the custodial tortures and alleged deaths to be brought under control.

More technical methods should be used in prisons like usage of CCTV cameras, could be more suitable to find the situations faced by the custodian.

CONCLUSION

When we talk about the crimes and criminals, both has their own right and freedoms. No person shall be deprived of their fundamental rights of being alive. Even the Constitution provides fundamental rights of arrested personnels, it has to be protected. They shall always be kept safe as how a civilian has been safe guarded and he shall not be considered as inhuman and perform inhumanity. Some other cases like, forcing some one for falsely confessing crimes, even if they have no idea about those. It shall be strictly controlled by codified laws. Each Police Officer is a watchdog of justice and should not be a nightmare of justice.

"Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere" - Martin Luther King Jr.

">George Floyd who died in the USA, Jayaraj, and Benicks in Tamil Nadu. This created a rose of concerns and protests regarding the custodial tortures and deaths of the accused.

WHAT IS CUSTODIAL TORTURE? IS THERE ANY LAW REGARDING TO IT?

The term custodial torture has not been defined under any law, but it has been considered as a tactic used for investigation officers to gets information regarding the case from the alleged accused in custody. These tactics were used in a lighter way which may cause lighter effects on the accused, but nowadays it became crucial and had grievous effects on the accused resulting in their deaths or permanent injuries. After the case of George Floyd, the USA introduced a Police Reform Bill having a register to record all the misconduct of officers.

In India, Anti-Torture Bill was discussed many times but not yet passed. It was a law made by the UN on UN Conventions Against Torture in 1975. Thus, India being a member of the United Nations, presented a bill called Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 under which if, Public servant torture any person in his custody, he shall be punished under this Bill.

REPORTS ON CUSTODIAL DEATHS

- In the last five years (2015-2019) about 36% of deaths in police custody have been reported as suicides and in 2019 81% reported either death by suicide (39%) or by illness/death in hospital (42%) .

- The National Crime Report Bureau(NCRB) reported custodial deaths in India during the year 2019 as 85 deaths while in 2018 it was 70 deaths.

- Annual Report of National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) says that 1,737 persons had been died in 2019, with at least 5 death per day.

- Out of this, 125 died in Police custody and others under judicial custody.

• Out of 125, 74.4% (93) died during police custody due to torture or foul play;
• 19.2% (24) died under suspicious circumstances in which police claimed it to be either suicide (16), illness (7), or injuries (1).
• 4% (5) were reported as unknown.

- Uttar Pradesh is being the State at the top of the list of several custodial death due to torture.

- Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) reported 7,468 people alleged to have died in custody, an average of 1,494 people per year or 4 people per day .

SOME CASES REPORTED

1. Nilabati Behra Alias Lalit v. State of Orissa ans Ors .

Petitioner’s son was arrested by the Asst. Sub-Inspector of Police with an investigation of an offense of theft and was detained under police custody. He was later heard to be dead in the custody. He had bodily injuries and his body was found on the railway track. The Hon’ble Supreme Court compensated them with money.

2. Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra .

This case was also called as Mathura Rape case. It was a popular case of custodial rape of a girl named Mathura, at the police station by two policemen. The girl had a love affair with a boy named Ashok, had a sexual relationship with him, and was willing to marry each other. But Mathura’s brother complained that she had been kidnapped by Ashok and his family and seek help from the station. The Police officers brought Mathura to the station and took her to an isolated room alone with two policemen who were alleged to have committed rape against her. The Court held that, there were no penetration and bodily injuries which shows that she didn’t resist and consented to that. Thus, the officials were acquitted.

SUGGESTIONS

Despite of reported cases of custodial tortures, rapes, deaths, etc. no law has been passed yet to control this cruelty. Even the UN made a law on passing of Anti-Torture Bills, and even it has been introduced in the Parliament in 2010, it had no further progress towards implementation. Section 144B of Indian Evidence Act states the accountability of police officials on custodial deaths or tortures. It is hence required to be codified, certain laws regarding the custodial tortures and alleged deaths to be brought under control.

More technical methods should be used in prisons like usage of CCTV cameras, could be more suitable to find the situations faced by the custodian.

CONCLUSION

When we talk about the crimes and criminals, both has their own right and freedoms. No person shall be deprived of their fundamental rights of being alive. Even the Constitution provides fundamental rights of arrested personnels, it has to be protected. They shall always be kept safe as how a civilian has been safe guarded and he shall not be considered as inhuman and perform inhumanity. Some other cases like, forcing some one for falsely confessing crimes, even if they have no idea about those. It shall be strictly controlled by codified laws. Each Police Officer is a watchdog of justice and should not be a nightmare of justice.

"Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere" - Martin Luther King Jr.

1. https://scroll.in/article/978919/existing-data-on-custodial-deaths-in-india-fails-to-give-a-full-picture#:~:text=In%20the%20last%20five%20years,hospitals%20(42%25)%20during%20treatment.
2. https://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20080628/nation.htm#3
3. 1993 AIR 1960, 1993 SCR (2) 581
4. 1979 AIR 185, 1979 SCR (1) 810
 

 

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Megha Online
on 25 January 2021
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