There can be no gain saying that freedom of an individual must yield to be security of the State. The Courts have upheld the right of preventive detention of individuals in the interest of security of the State in various situations prescribed under different statutes. The right to interrogate the detenus, culprits or arrestees in the interest of the nation, must take precedence over an individual's right to personal liberty. The Latin maxim salus populi est suprema lex (the safety of the people is the supreme law) and salus republicae est suprema lex (safety of the State is the Supreme law) co-exist and are not only important
and relevant but lie at the heart of the doctrine that the welfare of an individual must yield to that of the community. The action of the State, however, must be "right, just and fair". Using any form of torture for extracting any kind of information would neither be 'right nor just nor fair' and, therefore, would be impermissible, being offensive to Article 21. Such a crime-suspect must be interrogated - indeed subjected to sustained and scientific interrogation - determined in accordance with the provision of law. He cannot, however, be tortured or subjected to third degree methods or eliminated with a view to elicit information, extract confession or drive knowledge about his accomplices, weapons etc.
His Constitutional right cannot be abridged except in the manner permitted by law, though in the very nature of things there would be qualitative difference in the method of interrogation of such a person as compared to an ordinary criminal. Challenge of terrorism must be met with innovative ideas and approach. State terrorism is no answer to combat terrorism. State terrorism would only provide legitimacy to 'terrorism'. That would be bad for the State, the community and above all for the Rule of Law. The State must, therefore, ensure that various agencies deployed by it for combating terrorism act within the bounds of law and not become law unto them. That the terrorist has violated human rights of innocent citizens may render him liable for punishment but it cannot justify the violation of his human rights except in the manner permitted by law. Need, therefore, is to develop scientific methods of investigation and train the investigators properly to interrogate to meet the challenge.
In addition to the statutory and constitutional requirements to which I made a reference, I am is of the view that it would be useful and effective to structure appropriate machinery for contemporaneous recording and notification of all cases of arrest and detention to bring in transparency and accountability. It is desirable that the officer arresting a person should prepare a memo of his arrest at the time of arrest in the presence of at least one witness who may be a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. The date and time of arrest shall be recorded
in the memo, which must also be counter signed by the arrestee. All these provisions of law have been declared by the Honble Supreme Court in various cases and are to be followed strictly in order to make the law and order as well as rule of law in the society and here comes into the picture the role of Human Rights Agencies.
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