There were more than 1700 cases of custodial deaths in 2019.According to a
report, in a movie if the lead actor does some violent act or fake encounter
viewers encourage it, according to most of the viewers the work of police is not
only to maintain law and order but to punish the criminals.
A few months back a father and son died due to custodial death in the Sathakulam
police station in Tamilnadu P. Jeyaraj 62, who was the owner of a mobile shop
was taken in custody because of not following rules of lockdown, his son, J.
bennix followed the police team to the station. In the police station when he
saw that his father was being harassed, he tried to stop the police official.
Which provoked the police team, and they thrashed the father and son for hours.
They were badly injured. Next day they were taken to Sathankulam magistrate
court, according to brother in law of Jeyaraj the magistrate waves the hand from
the building as the police stood outside, they were sent to jail. Due to
continues bleeding and injuries they were shifted to gov hospital later. Bennix
died in the evening and father jayraj died next day in morning.
The third report of national police commission which was referred in the case of
Joginder Singh noted that out of total arrests in India 60% of them were
unnecessary. The no. of custodial deaths during 2019 were over 5 person pe
day. A total no. of 1731 cases of deaths in police custody or judicial
custody were recorded from January to December in 2019 deaths in police
custody occur mainly due to torture, in a report by NCAT out of 125 deaths 93
death in police custody were due to torture, while 24 deaths are under suspicion
in which police claimed they committed suicide or died due to illness. Out of
125 deaths in police custody Utter Pradesh topped with 14 deaths, followed
Tamilnadu and Punjab with 11 deaths each.
Methods of torture by police
According to the director of NCAT torture methods used in 2019 included
hammering iron nails, applying roller on legs and burning, stretching legs apart
in opposite side and hitting in the private parts, electric shocks, pouring
petrol or applying chilli powder on private parts, pricking body with the
needles. Kicking the abdomen of a pregnant woman and many more brutal methods
are used by police.
Prevention of torture bill
In India prevention of torture bill 2010 has been discussed many times but has
not passed yet. Globally it was started in 1975 by united nation convention
against torture 1975. India is a member of U.N so if the law has to be applied
in India, we have to make the law by parliament. So, a bill was presented for
the first time in Lok Sabha in 2010 named prevention of torture bill 2010. In
this bill if any public servant commits a torture then punishment has been
prescribed against him.
This bill explains the word torture very broadly and
simply and says that if any public servant torture any individual for deriving
any information or his confession and he hurts the individual grievously or
torture his life, limb physically or mentally than all these things will be
considered as torture and against this act there is a punishment of 10 years.
After being passed from Lok Sabha it comes to Rajya Sabha, after including many
suggestions by Rajya Sabha select committee this bill has been presented many
times in Rajya Sabha but till now it has not been passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Important decision by the SC
In Joginder Singh case
 it was held that the police undoubtedly had the power
to arrest and interrogate but these powers could not be used arbitrarily. The
arrest which is done without any proper justification is an illegal act. In The
most famous and important case of D.K basu honíble Supreme court recognised
custodial death and police torture and said that custodial violence is a attack
on human dignity.
Even after so many recommendation and policies the cases of
custodial deaths are increasing. Honíble supreme court formulated detailed
guidelines in Sheela barse and D.K basu case for arrest:
Guidelines for enquiry of custodial violence
- whichever police person is handling the interrogation or arrest they
should carry their name tags in which their names tag in which their names
and designation must been seen clearly
- If any police person is arresting someone, they had to maintain an
arrest memo in which the details of the arrest should be there like the
signature of the witness person, time, date, and place of the arrest.
- An arrested person has right to inform some friend, relative or any
other person that he has been arrested and where he is being detained.
- If arrestee person has any major or minor injury, it should be recorded
in inspection memo and the inspection memo must be signed by arrestee and
police official who is arresting.
- The arrestee must have a medical examination in every 48 hours at the
time of detention and this medical examination must need to be done by an
approved doctor on the panel.
- Copies of all documents must be sent to area magistrate and the arrested
person has a right to meet his lawyer.
- The obligation to produce the arrested person before a magistrate within
24 hours and Section 41A to 41D, 50A, 54A, 55A, 60A were added in the
code of criminal procedure with the hope that the process of arrests would
become more transparent and the arrested person would have extra safeguards.
Section 176(1A) of CRPC states that every case of custodial violence shall be
investigated by a judicial magistrate, itís a special provision to deal with
case of death, disappearance or rape in police custody.
The provision says that
in such type of cases, the judicial magistrate or the metropolitan magistrate
within whose local jurisdiction offence has been committed shall hold an inquiry
in addition to the enquiry of police. there are some guidelines by National
Human Right Commission about the aspects which should cover in a Magisterial
enquiry., like the circumstances, cause, manner and sequence and responsible
person for the death and also the medical treatment provided.
A deadline of 2
months is also set by NHRC.
NHRC has issued Guidelines for video-filming and photography of post-mortem
examination in case the aim of the video filming and photography of post mortem
examination is to record the detailed findings of the post-mortem specially the
marks or injuries which suggest custodial violence. According to report of NHRC
It was found that the Autopsy Report forms used in the various States, were not
comprehensive and, therefore, do not serve the purpose and also give scope for
doubt and manipulation so Model autopsy form for custodial deaths was
introduced by NHRC which needs to be followed in case of custodial death.
Why custodial deaths often goes unpunished
But as per the report of NCRB only 28 cases of custodial deaths were
investigated out of 70 cases in 2018. Out of 28 only in 13 cases charge sheets
were filed. In the case of Jeyaraj and Bennix an enquiry by judicial magistrate
has been initiated, in a letter to hight court magistrate has stated that police
are trying to intimidate them and destroy the evidence.
This shows how easily
our police safeguard itself from the cases of custodial deaths. The absence of
direct evidence becomes a hurdle in the cases of custodial deaths. The other
problem is cases go on for a long time and most of the times witness turns
hostile due to pressure created by police.
Even after the guidelines on the basis of different cases by supreme court then
also the cases of custodial violence are rising. Many people thought that
without torture truth can not be taken out from the person. On the other side if
police whose duty is to maintain order and law uses torture then it is
unacceptable at all. It is right that police work under so much pressure and
many other problems but police has no right torcher an innocent and helpless
person by ignoring the law.
The main work of police is to protect the society by
maintaining law and order not to punish someone or taking revange there are
courts to punish the criminals. There is a need of bring reforms in our system
so that no anymore Jeyaraj and Bennix lose their life because of custodial
- Joginder Singh vs state of U.P 1994 AIR 1349, 1994 SSC (4) 260
- NHRC ( national human rights commission) report
- See NHRC monthly human rights cases statics from January to December
2019 at https://nhrc.nic.in
- Report of NCAT
- Joginder singh vs state of U.P 1994 AIR 1349, 1994 SSC (4) 260
- D.K basu vs state of west Bengal ( 1997 (1) SSC 416)
- Sheela barse vs state of Maharashtra 1983 AIR 378
- Article 22 (2)