Indian Police: The Protector Or The Persecutor?
The Indian democracy is the world's largest democracy. However, the world's largest democracy lacks a proper legal framework for "torture" and is often suppressed by the police officials which considers itself above law. The primary most duty of every police officer is to protect citizens of the country, maintain law, public peace and order, crime prevention, investigation and detection. But, it is saddening to bring to light to fact that at times the police do not undertake their responsibilities in a proper way and indulge in various unscrupulous activities which tend to lower the dignity of the police officers as well as shake the foundation of trust and faith imposed on them by the society.
Police brutality can be defined as use of excessive force than that is reasonably necessary to accomplish a reasonable purpose. excessive or disproportionate use of force is regarded as a violation of the rights of the person on whom it is applied. Police brutality unlike other general terms cannot be put in a strait jacket or be given a water tight definition. This is because police brutality occurs in many forms. torture by police is endemic in India. Many of the marginalized section of the people do not even approach the police because of their fear towards the police itself and hence many crimes go unreported. The main forms in which police brutality is manifested is as follows.
Police Brutality resulting in Custodial Death
It is often reported and bought to our notice that police officers use third degree torture methods to extract the truth or extract whatever they want to hear from the accused . However, in the process of such interrogation which involves torture both physically and mentally, the accused at times unable to face the wrath dies and this is termed as "custodial Death"
In the matter of Nilabati Behera Vs. State of Orissa & Ors, the pathetic act committed by the police officials shook the conscience of citizens all over the country. In this case the accused Suman Behera was taken in to custody on 1.12.1987 at 8.AM and he was found dead the next day on the railway track near Police Outpost,Jeraikela without being released from custody and his death was unnatural caused by multiple injuries sustained by him. The state of orissa was held liable and was directed to pay compensation to the appellant. This act by the police was heavily criticised and was regardeda s a gross violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Police Brutality in the form of Negligence
Negligence can be defined as lack of proper care and caution which ought to have been taken by a normal human being on reasonable prudence. The duty of the police extends to any person in his custody immaterial of the fact that he is guilty, innocent or accused. It is disappointing as well as astonishing to note that police derelicts from this primary duty which results in unnecessary harassment to the people who rely on the power and position of the Police.
To cite for example the case of Ranjiben Vs. State, Shri Rameshbhai kushalbhai Parmar, husband of the petitioner was arrested on 6th May, 1995. While in custody on 7th May, 1995 aat about 1.30 Hours, he complained of stomach ache and uneasiness and was taken out of the lockup and steps were being taken to take him to the hospital. However, before he could be taken to hospital he died. Since the death occurred under suspicious circumstances on 14th August, 1995 an inquiry was directed under section 174 of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1973. The report revealed that the authorities took an inordinate time in procuring a vehicle to take the deceased to the hospital, which resulted in death due to absence of urgent medical facilities. The police was held negligent in not performing the required duty and was directed to pay compensation to the appellant. The police should bear this simple fact in mind that while dealing with any person it has power to deal with such person in accordance with law and law does not give any unfettered power to the police to deal with anyone in lockup in any fancy way they deem desirable.
Police Brutality in the form of Illegal Detention
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. Article 21 would be devoid of its importance if it didn't provide any remedy for illegal detention. Illegal Detention is a flagrant violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. Illegal Detention can be defined as unjustifiable Imprisonment or unlawful deprivation of liberty by way of arrest for a wrongful cause or suspicion and continued restriction of personal freedom of such person by retaining him in custody.
To illustrate, in the case of Rudal Shah Vs. Sate of Bihar once again the police reiterated such act demonstrating its insensitive attitude. This case puts forth a set of certain facts which clearly display the callous attitude of police officials towards a prisoner. In this case, the petitioner had been detained in prision for 14 long years after his acquittal. He then filed a writ of Habeas Corpus praying for his release on the ground that his detention was unlawful. He also asked for certain other reliefs including relief for compensation. The jail authorities put forth the plea that he was of unsound mind and after the order of acquittal he was not in a proper state of mind to be released . In this case there was no document or medical proof to support the instable mental situation of the Petitioner. Therefore, in light of the above facts stated in brief the Court stated that in these circumstances, the refusal of the court to pass an order of compensation in favor of the petitioner will be doing mere lip-service to the his fundamental right to liberty which the state government has grossly violated. The Court held taht taking in to consideration the great ahrm done to the petitioner by the government of Bihar an amount of Rs.35000 would be paid.
However, the underlying question that needs to be given a pervasive thought here is that is only compensation sufficient or considered at par with the pain and agony faced by the person for past 14 years even after acquittal and is this the standard of justice served in our country where violators are let loose just by imposing an amount of Compensation? This is not an isolated case of its kind and is a matter of serious concern that there is darkness all around in the prison administration of Bihar.
Thus, the urgent need of the hour is to frame such a legislation wherein complaints can be received from all sections of teh society without any fear of partiality or prejudice. An independent working Committee should be established for every police station at the district level which should conduct investigations at regular intervals in the police stations under its jurisdiction in the particular area. In addition to such suo motto investigation such committee should also be empowered to receive complaints from the victims. The working Committee should comprise of police officials who have a track of honesty, integrity and independence and should be appointed by the State Government for a particular period of time.
Thus. there is a dire necessity to preserve the fundamental rights of teh victims and restoring basic human values in erring police officials so that they can become an effective instrument of social change and help in reinforcing the foundation of justice and fair play.