Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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Key Takeaways

  • Concept of human rights in India and its recognition worldwide and the principles of a police investigation - that are mandatory to be followed.
  • Instances of police atrocities in India, that led to the number of deaths in police custody every year.
  • Landmark judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court concerning the human rights and validity of the actions of the police department in various cases.

Introduction

Human rights are the basic rights that every person is born with, and is entitled to throughout his life irrespective of his place of birth, belief, etc. These rights must never be taken away by the State although they may always be subjected to some reasonable restrictions. These rights stand on the pillars of certain basic values like dignity, equality,freedom, etc. However, the existence of human rights is not sufficient unless they are backed by the proper legislation and are strictly enforced. The Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Court of India have, from time-to-time taken cognizance of the cases involving human rights violations and passed the landmark judgments in furtherance of it.

Human Rights

Our Indian Constitution provides certain human rights in the name of Fundamental Rights which are, Right to Equality (Articles 14-18), the Right to Freedom (Articles 19-22), the Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24), the Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28), Cultural and Educational Rights (29-30), and Right to Constitutional Remedies (Articles 32). Similar to our Constitution, several basic human rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), like, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood (Article 1), everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person (Article 3), and no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5), no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (9), everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense (Article 11 (1)) and so on. Human rights are thus greatly emphasized to be protected not only nationally but internationally as well.

Police Investigation and Human Rights

Police interrogation is a process in which the police can investigate or question the accused when he is brought into police custody. However, during the interrogation, the police sometimes exceed their powers and use unnecessary force against the accused that in turn violates his human rights. Self-incrimination, torture, etc. are against human rights, but an accused often has to undergo such cruelty during police interrogation.

There are certain principles of a police interrogation that need to be followed,like;the person who is subjected to interrogation has his/her basic right to life, liberty, and security intact. Police authorities cannot take away these basic rights from that person. Article 3 of the UDHR and the Constitutional provisions like Article 20 and Article 21 provide for the same. Also, a personcannot be arbitrarily deprived of his/her life and cannot be subjected to torture or any other inhumane punishment during the interrogation.

Human Rights Violations During A Police Investigation In India

It has been found that when the police did not follow the proper arrest procedures,which include documenting the arrest, notifying family members, conducting medical examinations, producing the suspect before a magistrate within 24 hours, etc. it led the suspectto a more vulnerable condition under police custody. Many cases make it evident how ignorant is the police department when it comes to the human rights of an individual, including the Right to Life (Article 21 of the Indian Constitution). One of the recent cases is the best example to cite in which, the traders P Jeyaraj and his son J Beniks were brutally tortured to death by police for about seven hours in Sathankulam Police Station, Tamil Nadu. They were arrested for violation of the Covid-19 protocol as they kept their shop open post lockdown hours. As a result, they were beaten up mercilessly by the police,whicheventually led to their death from several injuries. As per the Annual Report on Torture 2019, a total of 1731 people died in India in the year 2019. The Report said that 1,606 of the deaths took place in the judicial custody and 125 deaths in police custody. Of the 125 cases in police custody, 93 persons (74.4%) died due to the alleged torture or foul play, while 24 (19.2%) died under suspicious circumstances in which the police stated suicide (16), illness (seven), and injuries (one). As per the latest data by the National Human Rights Commission, in the year 2020 alone, from January till July there were 914 deaths in custody, of which 53 deaths took place in police custody and the rest in the judicial custody.

Several landmark judgments decided the fate of Human Rights in India against the police personnel.

MP SHARMA v. SATISH CHANDRA [AIR 1954 1 SCR 1077]

In this case, following an FIR, the District Magistrate issued warrants and searches against the Dalmia group. Consequently, in a Writ Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the validity of the searches was challenged because they violated their Fundamental Rights under Articles 19(1)(f) and 20(3). The 8-judges bench of the Supreme Courtrejected the petition stating that search and seizures were important social security. This, however, could be considered bad law.

KHARAK SINGH v. STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH [AIR 1963 SC 1295]

In this case, the right to privacy was invoked in order to challenge the surveillance of an accused person by the police. Kharak Singh, who was arrested for dacoity but was later released due to a lack of evidence, was subsequently brought under surveillance by the Uttar Pradesh Police, under Chapter XX of the Uttar Pradesh Police Regulations. As a result, Kharak Singh challenged the constitutional validity of Chapter XX and the powers it conferred upon police officials, as it violated his fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(d) (Right to freedom of movement) and 21 (Right to life and personal liberty). The 6-judges bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court,therefore held that the domiciliary visits at night were unconstitutional, but upheld the rest of the Regulations.

BUDDHADEV KARMASKAR v. STATE OF WEST BENGAL AND Ors. [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 135 OF 2010]

In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ruled that the sex workers are entitled to all basic human rights and other rights as are guaranteed in the Indian Constitution and the police should not abuse the ones who are engaged in sex work either verbally or physically.The Hon’ble Court further stated that the attitude of the police towards sex workers is often brutal and violent. They should however be sensitized to the rights of sex workers, who too have the basic human rights and other rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution to all the citizens. The Hon’ble Court ruled that the police should treat all sex workers with dignity and should not abuse them, either verbally or physically, or subject them to violence or coerce them into any sexual activity against their will. Hence, in this landmark judgment, the basic human rights of the sex workers were finally recognized and protected against police atrocities.

JOGINDER SINGH V. STATE OF UP [(1994) 4 SCC 280]

In this case,the Hon’ble Supreme Court laid down certain guidelines like an accused person held in custody has the right to have a friend, relative, or another person; who is familiar with him or likely to be concerned about his welfare informed of his arrest and where he is being held, as far as possible.The officer, after bringing a person to the police station must inform him of his rights. Also, in the diary, an entry must be made regarding who was informed of his arrest. Since these safeguards are provided under Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Indian Constitution, the Hon’ble Court ordered that they must be strictly enforced.

MRS. PARAMJIT KAUR v. STATE OF PUNJAB AND Ors. [1995]

The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in the year 2007, upheld five convictions of Patiala Court, sentencing them to life imprisonment, the sixth official was however acquitted. Jaswanth Singh Khalrainitiated a battle against the disappearance of thousands of Sikh youths who later used to be found killed in fake encounters during the militancy.In such a war, he became the victim himself of one such forced disappearance and was killed by the Punjab Police.He was kidnapped by the Punjab Police personnel and was killed on October 27, 1995.His body was found disposed of in Harike Canal. His wife, Paramjit Kaur then approached the Court to seek justice, and later, the Hon’ble Supreme Court upheld the convictions and sentences of the Hon’ble High Court.

Conclusion

The abuse of powers by the police reflects the failure of the Indian Government, both Central and State, to implement the accountability mechanisms in the police department. Despite the strict guidelines, the authorities always fail to conduct strict investigations and prosecute the police officials who are involved in the torture and ill-treatment of arrested persons.Although the Indian Constitution guarantees the Fundamental Rights to the citizens of India, there is still,a lack of awareness and legal representation in police stations which makes those guarantees ineffective for the arrestedindividuals at that time, when they need them the most. If the violation of the basic dignity of a human being will continue to prevail, it will eventually lead to many other human rights violations like freedom of thought and expression and alsothe right to life of a person. Therefore, whether the principles of investigation are properly being followed up by the police authorities or not, needs to be routinely checked to make sure that human rights are not murdered.


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