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  • Writer's picturebrillopedia


Author: Yoagesh M, III year of B.Com.,LL.B(Hons) from Sastra University, Thanjavur.

Co-author: Rathnasundara Devi S, III year of B.Com.,LL.B(Hons) from Sastra University, Thanjavur.


The police have a special responsibility for the protection of human rights. At times, these protectors may act against their responsibility. The term police brutality means cruelty of police who imposes unwarranted force against civilians, which includes assault, battery, torture, murder, custodial death, illegal detention, fake encounters, etc. In society, for the protection of the public police were given the right to use force against any individuals (mostly against the accused). Legally, they can use physical or even deadly force under certain situations. But if those rights were misused, i.e., if a force is used unnecessarily or if it is used more than necessary, then such activity comes under police brutality. Such police brutality is a violation of fundamental rights, and the compensation for such violations is borne by the state.

This brutality made the public lose their trust at the police and this also made the witness backslide. In this paper, we dealt with police brutality in their custody and how such brutality affects the public.


In 1977, the National Police Commission was introduced by the Government of India. This commission shows police as the law enforcing agency and also as an institution to protect the rights of the citizens enshrined in the constitution. This commission provides reports suggesting reforms in the prevailing police setup. This commission deals with complaints against the police, Appointment of Criminal Justice Commission, political interference in police work, postings/transfers and suspensions orders, etc.

In the D.K.Basu V. State of West Bengal case, the petitioner filed a PIL against custodial death. The court issued a notice to the law commission requesting appropriate suggestions regarding such deaths. This commission suggested that further investigation against police should be done by the superior ranks in the police hierarchy.


This is considered one of the worst crimes in a civilized society governed by the Rule of law. Custodial torture itself is one of the cruelest forms of human rights abuse. The custodial death cases can be traced back to the year 1993, through the Nilabati behara V. State of Orissacase. Nilabati Behara is the mother of Suman Behara, who was dead in custody, written a letter to the Supreme Court. Under the Art.32 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court took suo motto action and converted it into a writ petition, and given a historical judgment that ensured that a state cannot escape from the liability when the fundamental right is violated.

In J.Prabhavathiamma V. The State of Kerala case, the two police personnel were accused and awarded a death sentence for the death of a scrap metal shop worker who was murdered in police custody. The court highlighted that the acts of the accused person would adversely affect the very institution of the police department.

On June 19th, 2020, Jeyaraj and Bennicks, a father and a son, had allegedly kept their mobile shop open beyond 8 PM, which violates the state-imposed restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID. They were dragged by the officers to the Sathankulam station and stripped naked and tortured. After a few days they pronounced dead in Jail. Under section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the inquiry was done by the magistrate into the cause of death and special procedures were created for investigating such custodial deaths.


The undeniable fact that police violence kills people is the most direct connection between police violence and public health, and maybe the clearest indication out there that we don’t regard police violence as a public health issue is the sad reality that our government doesn’t even keep track of the number of individuals the police kill per year at a national level. Instead, we believe incomplete compilations of data from media outlets and activist organizations. Police violence is a cause of death and injury to those that experience it directly, then there’s this other category of police violence that perhaps has wider effects on public health,” Feldman says.

In 2019, Jamia Milia Islamia attack, during the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, police attacked student protesters and also the non-protesting students at the Jamia Milia Islamia campus. On the same day itself, police and Rapid Action Force injured several students, including some severe injuries, by firing tear-gas shells, rubber bullets, stun grenades, and pellets at the Aligarh Muslim University students protesting against the same act. The forces fired tear gas shells inside hostel rooms and set vehicles belonging to students.

The koothuparamba firing incident happened on 25th November 1994 in the Kannur district of Kerala. After the inauguration of the co-operative urban banks evening branch by M.V.Raghavan Communist Marxist party leader and Kerala's chief minister, the firing happened. It happened when the DYFI had arranged a protest against the educational policy of granting governmental quota seats to the management of the then UDF government which was led by Congress. The police resorted to firing when the protesters blocked the minister, and the police fired at the crowd for the protection of both the minister and the public. In the firing, five DYFI activists were dead, and six were severely injured.


In Art.22 of the Indian Constitution, the following rights are guaranteed as the rights of the accused person. The rights are:

  • The person has the right to consult a legal counsel.

  • Right to know the ground of his arrest.

  • Within 24 hours, the arrested person shall be produced before a judicial magistrate.

However, there are certain exceptions to these provisions as they do not apply to the people who are arrested under the preventive detention law. Besides this, Art.20 of the Indian Constitution lays down the following rights:

  • Protection against the ex-post-facto law.

  • No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offense twice.

  • The person who is accused has the right to remain silent.

In a famous landmark case, Bhim Singh V. State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court laid down that arrest of a person with malicious intent is a violation of Art.19, 20, and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Even in times of emergency, these provisions cannot be suspended. The arrested person has the right to bail, by the virtue of sec.436 to 450 of the code of criminal procedure. The admissions made in the police custody are unacceptable before the court of law. But in the provisions of the terrorism and disruptive activities (prevention) Act, 1987 and prevention of terrorism Act 2002, the admissions made before the court, which is contrary to the above-mentioned. This makes a striking difference between both types of offenders, which leads to the violation of the fundamental right of Art.14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.


It is shocking to realize that police lock-ups in the country turn out to be death chambers. Custodial crime is a species of man-made malady which is rapidly growing. By resorting to such excesses, the law enforcers are only creating a congenial atmosphere for fostering terrorism. Personal liberty and freedom of life are considered basic fundamental rights. But when a person is arrested, he is deprived of such rights, and it may also affect their family. Such action should be done with due care and caution. Mostly the action of the police is carried out on mere suspicion, investigation, and interrogation. Rarely did the police use the Narco Analysis test with the intention of proper detention.

However, it contradicts certain rights such as the right to life, the right to privacy, the right to self-incrimination, and the right to remain silent. This test can be done only for their investigation purpose and for proper accusation. If this test is misused, then it will also be considered police brutality. No civilized society can afford to bear this transformation of man into a beastly animal. Therefore, every police personnel should adhere to their rights and follow the rules laid down by their commission.


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