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Police Brutality

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[1] 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.[2] A total no. of 1731 cases of deaths in police custody or judicial custody were recorded from January to December in 2019[3] 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[4]. 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[5] 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[6] hon�ble 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. Hon�ble supreme court formulated detailed guidelines in Sheela barse [7]and D.K basu case for arrest:
  • 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[8] 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.

Guidelines for enquiry of custodial violence
Section 176(1A) of CRPC states that every case of custodial violence shall be investigated by a judicial magistrate, it�s 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 death.

  1. Joginder Singh vs state of U.P 1994 AIR 1349, 1994 SSC (4) 260
  2. NHRC ( national human rights commission) report
  3. See NHRC monthly human rights cases statics from January to December 2019 at
  4. Report of NCAT
  5. Joginder singh vs state of U.P 1994 AIR 1349, 1994 SSC (4) 260
  6. D.K basu vs state of west Bengal ( 1997 (1) SSC 416)
  7. Sheela barse vs state of Maharashtra 1983 AIR 378
  8. Article 22 (2)

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