Custodial Violence: In The Light Of Case Laws & International Conventions
Custodial Violence And The Abuse of Power
The term custodial violence includes death, torture and other forms of violence in police custody. Custodial violence has emerged as a major concern of human rights in the ongoing period. However, Custodial violence is not a new phenomenon and it has been going through from a very long period and become the major obstacle to the basic human rights of people guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. In a recent incident, where custodial death of a father and his son in Sathankluam town near thoothukudi, clearly demonstrated the aggressive and cruelty of the police where both father and his son were beaten mercilessly by the police in custody until their last breath. The above incident clearly shows how the protectors of law and order abuse the legal setup which is made to protect innocent individuals. The report released by Asian Centre for Human Rights stated: “a total of 1,674 custodial deaths took place in India between 1 April 2017 to 28 February 2018”. Such records put a question on the misuse of powers by the police during the conduct of the investigation.
In Kishor Singh v. State of Rajasthan, the Apex court of India held that custodial violence by the policemen violates the rights of an individual guaranteed under the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution which states that no person shall be deprived of his life, personal liberty or property except according to the procedure established by law. Moreover, Article 13 of the constitution protect the suspects from third-degree torture by the police officials to extort confessions.
In Nilabati Behera v. State of Orrisa, the Apex Court of India held that it is the responsibility of the police to ensure the right to life of an individual in their custody. Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is another instrument which protects the rights of an individual. Article 3 of the UDHR states everyone has the right to life, liberty and security. Article 5 states that no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
The above discussion clearly brings out one conclusion that custodial violence and torture violates the fundamental rights as well as basic human rights of an individual guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Power always comes with the tendency to misuse it and police are no exception. The maltreatment against under trial prisoners and the surfeit use of power against them create a negative impact about police officials that they consider themselves above any law and regulations. There is a high time to formulate certain guidelines to protect the interest of the individuals from the tyranny of the police. There is a need to install CCTV cameras in police stations as well as in the interrogation rooms. There is a dire need to make stringent laws to counter the severe issue of custodial violence and regular inspections need to be done by the higher authorities which would act as a preventive way against custodial violence which has also been suggested by the Apex Court in its earlier judgement. Every intimate has the right to be treated with dignity and police has no right to take any punitive action outside the ambit of law which would be illegal. The police need to understand that their primary duty is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and the maintenance of law and order in society and not to violate the existing rule of laws.