CUSTODIAL VIOLENCE: A THREAT TO OUR RIGHTS!
Supriya, National law University Odissa
The India, where we solemnize the right to life as the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution, is the same India, where instances of torture and third-degree methods are used upon the suspects during illegal detention by the police, whom we call as our saviours.
A feeling of terror runs through my heart, as I read the horrifying news headlines revealing the inhumane and Barbaric act of police, resulting in the death of people which is closed under their sustained interrogations.
Yes, custodial violence in India is rampant. Custodial violence refers to the violence in police custody and judicial custody. Besides death, rape and torture are two other forms of custodial violence, and custodial violence resulting in death is one of the most brutal ways of penalizing the suspects.
Often we hear cases of custodial violence that results in people's death. The most recent case being that of Tamil Nadu, where the father P. Jayaraj and his son Phoenix were brutally thrashed and extremely tortured and finally beaten to death by the police. Why? because they violated the lockdown rules. Seems minor, doesn't it? For this minor act, they were beaten to death.
Yes, this is what is happening all across India. Such gruesome practices are prevalent almost in every part of the country today. The most important question that comes to our mind after hearing such incidents, is why? Why do the police interrogations go down to such levels, where a person loses his life? The answer to this question can be numerous, but I will be citing the most appropriate and honest reasons.
Often such acts are committed when unrestrained force is used upon the suspects, or say lack of patience among the police personnel because they want immediate confessions. Also, it is used to manipulate the truth that the suspect might know; likewise it is used to close high-profile cases too. Isn't this how most of the cases in our country get closed?
The anguish expressed in the case of Munshi Singh Gautam versus state of Madhya Pradesh summarises the grave concern about the problem of torture in Indian prisons by the police, these cases raise a serious question about the credibility of the rule of law and justice.
Do we think about what impact it might have on the suspect, mentally and physically? Although the purpose of the torture is to dismantle the person physically so that he speaks up the truth, in reality, it leads to severe trauma, from which, it is difficult to get out and affects the suspect mentally, especially when he hasn't committed any wrong.
The worst a Justice system can do is punishing someone innocent. How will people trust the system if things like this keep happening? Why are there no actions taken against the police personnel committing such horrific crimes? Why do the police personnel try to take justice in their hands when we have a mechanized constitution for providing justice equitably?
We also frequently get to hear cases where innocent people are suspected and that too without proper trial. They are tortured by the police. The concern I am talking about is grave, but it seems like it has fallen on deaf ears. These cases show the eroding justice and power play- all combining to violate human rights. The fact that this happens even after we have so many acts and articles considering this issue, we need to look at the deeper cause of the problem and what measures can be taken to put an end to such horrors.
Here, I'm providing some suggestions, which are in consideration governing the cause at the root level. The traditional habit of using force should be curtailed. There should be other methods of interrogation, like some scientific methods which should not violate basic rights. Interrogation should be done following the sex, age and nature of the accused person. Examination and treatment should be conducted immediately if someone is injured badly and the most important reform that can be brought in the police department is by rebuilding the foundational training programs of Police Force, where they must be trained to interrogate humanely and made to learn to control their emotions and not take justice in their own hands. And after all this, these would be of no use if there is no one to keep a check on them or to restrain them. Therefore, there should be an independent supervising body constituted by higher investigating departments to keep a check on the regular happenings.
It’s high time we start taking this concern into seriously and take strict action against it. At last, I would like to leave you all with a question. How many P. Jayaraj cases do we need to change this practice of custodial violence? India is one of the largest democracy and violation of human rights and justice is a growing problem that needs to be fixed.