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Custodial Death: The worst Crime In India

This Article is regarding Custodial Death: The Worst Crime In India.

As per the report over 20 years, there are 1,888 cases reported of custodial death have been reported all over India, 893 cases were registered against Police officers and charge sheets were filed against 358 Police officers. The records show that during the 2 decades only 26 policemen were convicted.

What is Custodial Death:
Custodial Death means the death of a person in police custody or judicial custody. The word custody defines guardianship and protective care. Misusing one's power causes a person to die. Death of a person in police or prison custody due to which the person was beaten up, tortured etc by the police. It is caused due to negligent acts done by police, one can say it is physical torture by police or prison authority on prisoners which leads to the death of a person. It is done by police during interrogation or trial by police officers using force leads to death.

In the case of Paramvir Singh Saini vs Baijit Singh other It was held that the installation of CCTV shall be compulsory in the Police Station, while interrogation and the place where the holding of the accused takes place.

Custodial death is a shameful and worst crime for a civilized society in a democracy. This is being taken very lightly which is going to prove to be serious fatal in the coming time. Sometimes it has been found that a person disappears or died from the police or prison custody but the actual person dies in police or prison custody and is said to have fled. Misuse of power by police to gain credit by confessing the accused led to torture was held in the case Queen-Empress vs Babu lal 11884 12 R6 All, 509.

In the case of D.K Vasu vs State Of West Bengal, the Hon'ble Supreme Court laid down the following guidelines to be followed at the time of the arrest.
  • The police officer while interrogating of arrested person makes sure that the arrestee should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name with their designation must record in the register.
  • The police officer shall prepare a memo of arrest while arresting an accused person, attested by at least one witness who may either be a family member or a respectable citizen of society or locality, it shall be countersigned by the arrestee and shall contain the time and date of arrest.
  • Person in police custody, shall entitle to have one friend or relative as soon as an arrest is being made.
  • Time, place of arrest, and venue of custody of an arrested person informed to a friend or relative living outside the district or town by the police, within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.
  • Arrested person should be aware of his/her rights, soon after arrest should inform someone of his/her arrest
  • Entry should be made in the police diary of the arrested person his name, place, name of a friend or relative who has been informed of the arrest.
  • The arrested person can make a request for his/her medical examination, major and minor injuries present if any on his/her body should be recorded.
  • The arrested should be subject to medical examination every 48 hours by approved doctors appointed by a state or union territory.
  • Copies of all documents including the memo of arrest should be sent to the nearer magistrate.
  • Arrested have the right to meet his/her lawyer during interrogation.
  • Police control room should be provided at all district and state head quarters, place of arrest, causing of arrest should be displayed on the notice board, soon within 12 hours of effecting the arrest at the police control room.

Type of Custodial Death
It can be classified into two types:
  1. Police Custody
  2. Judicial Custody
When a person commits an offence, he is put in a police lockup. As per section 57 of CrPC an arrested person needs to be present before a nearer magistrate within 24 hours. While judicial custody means when an accused person is under the custody of a magistrate is known as judicial or prison custody.

Guideline Of National Human Right Commission (NHRC):
Following guidelines need to be followed during custodial death:
  • Death has to be reported within 24 hours to National Human Right Commission (NHRC).
  • Post mortem must be video graphed, post mortem works as valuable records.
  • All reports of post mortem, magistrate inquiry reports must be sent to NHRC within two months.

Law related to Custodial Death:
  1. Indian Penal code (IPC), 1860:
    Section 330, 331, and 348.
  2. Indian Evidence Act (IEA), 1872:
    Section 25 and 26.
  3. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973:
    Section 76, 162, and 167.
  4. Police Act 1861:
    Section 29.
  5. Prison Act:
    Section 3(1).
  6. Constitution:
    Article 14, 20(3) and 21.

Other Case Law
  1. State of Andhra Pradesh vs Venugopal and others AIR 1964 33, 1964 SCR(3) 742
    It was held that the court reversed the decision of acquittal, the 3 police officers who indulged in the torture of the accused were sentenced to 5-year rigorous imprisonment.
  2. State of Uttar Pradesh vs Ram Sagar Yadav and Others AIR 1985 SC 416.
    It was held by Supreme Court, the police officer found accused of conviction under 302 IPC instead of 304 IPC.
  3. Challa Ramakendra Reddy and Others vs State of A.P AIR 1989 A.P 235.
    It was held that under Rule 48 of Madras prison rules, the police were responsible for the safety of prisoners.
  4. Dallop Singh and others vs the State of Haryana (1993)2 SC J 542.
    Two constables were held liable for custodial death under section 304 Part 2 IPC were sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment.
  5. Maneka Gandhi case
    The Supreme court held that article 21 of the Indian Constitution requires not only law but also the procedure followed by the law should be Fair, Just and Reasonable.

It is the responsibility of the jury to look after the case to a serious extent and protect the interest of people to meet the end of justice. It is always found in the grip of its target marginalized caste, poorer sections of society are being more likely to be affected by police violence and to be tortured than people who are financially or politically hold. This type of crime is having a very deep impact on society, this has to be stopped or else it will become a threat to the next generation.

  • Custodial Death in India, A Research Study
Written By Priyanshu Badkul, a Student at Prestige Institute of Management and Research, Department of Law, Indore.

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