Human rights include rights which are at disposal to all the fellow human
beings in this existent society. The constitution of every liberal state ensures
that human rights as like the other civil liberties are at the doorsteps of the
common masses for the general public importance aiming to promote a state
possessing welfare policies for all. President Roosevelt of USA observed that
essential freedom such as freedom of speech, religion, want and fear will
together constitute human rights.
But statistical data of 21st century witnessed gradual decadence. Progressive
degeneration must have been playing the work upon it presently as moulding power
to crackdown on the torchbearers of human rights, attempts to suppress several
voices - voice of the civil society largely, introduction of laws that violates
individual's freedom etc. has experienced a dramatic rise in the recent years
and has been on a rise since then.
The US State Department has recently published a human rights report on India
for the year 2021. The report focussed on the state of civil liberties,
individual freedom and rights, worker's rights, political freedom, societal
abuse and discrimination, corruption and lack of transparency in govt. etc. in
the country. It stated that significant human rights issue included credible
reports of unlawful arbitrary killings, unlawful interference with privacy,
restrictions on free expression and media etc. Based on recent trends the paper
enumerates a likely future attribute of human rights.
Human Rights, as defined by the statute The Protection of Human Rights Act,1993
is the rights relating to life, liberty, equality, dignity of the individual
guaranteed by the constitution and which forms the concrete upon which the base
of International Covenants stands, which can be enforced by the Indian Courts.
The objective of human rights is achieved when the citizens of a country lead a
life of dignity in every sphere and aspects of a social life, enjoy freedom and
In the last two decades it has become more evident that human rights and
environmental protection have a fundamental interdependence between them: A
healthy environment is necessary for full enjoyment of human rights, and on the
contrary if otherwise the exercise or enjoyment of rights (including rights to
information, participation, and remedy) is critical to environment protection.
The preamble of The Constitution of India, which designates itself as
"cornerstone of a nation", a bulwark against executive legislative excesses and
discriminatory and majoritarian tendencies, assures the people of India, the
privilege of their enjoying equality of status and opportunity. An ignorance to
such knowledge invites dwindling human rights, shrinking freedoms, and rising
authoritarianism. Thus, the reasoning hereby supports that a prevalence of
healthy environment is directly proportional to circumstances favouring grounds
for complacency to enjoy Human Rights.
Although many aspects of the relationship of human rights and the environment
have become clear, some important issue remains unresolved such as the status of
a globally recognized human right to a healthy environment. Most countries
across the world have endorsed the right to healthy environment as the
fundamental feature for the essence and fulfilment of the objective of the Human
Thus, where the factor of suitable environment isn't fulfilled, human rights get
crunched and are shattered. Custodial death creates such a circumstance whereby
basic rights are denied to the persons who undergoes the brutal fate. This can
be referred in India as the deaths of persons in police custody and also to the
deaths of persons in judicial custody while undergoing trial or serving a
sentence. Adding to that absence of strong legislation and India's position as
to yet criminalise custodial violence which triggers the status of indifference
and human rights violation and enumerates the illusion of the action that might
be taken against culpable officials.
Hon'ble Supreme Court in "D. K Basu Vs. State of West Bengal
established norms required to be followed during arrest and detention in
conformity with laws of human rights.
B R Ambedkar has observed that "If I find the constitution being misused, I
shall be the first to burn it."
Thus, under the factum of custodial deaths, core questions remain unanswered
with regard to the content and scope of obligations to prevent gross human
rights violations. Many cases have been registered against the police personnel
for human rights violations across the country during 2018, involving custodial
deaths, illegal detention etc, which are somewhat shown before the public eye as
suicide under the cloak of corruption which is evidently misleading in the eyes
The National Human Rights Commission of India recorded a total of 1723 cases of
custodial deaths across the country from January – December 2019. These include
93.2% deaths in judicial custody and 6.7% deaths in police custody, which
suggests average of 5 deaths daily. Thus, the situation provokes a question as
to whether the detainees enjoy the privilege of human rights or the right under
Indian Annual Report on Torture 2019 shows that out of total police custody
deaths, 74.4% persons died owing to alleged torture, foul play, while 19.2% died
under suspicious circumstances.
Also, another data gathered rouses the doubt whether the right to live with
dignity and have access to fair justice is limited to the arm chair rich strata
of the country?
60% victims of police custody deaths belonged to the poor and marginalized
communities thereby depicting the fact that they are victimized owing to their
N V Ramana CJ. expressed his concern about custodial deaths said that "police
stations pose the highest threat to human rights and dignity as custodial
torture violence and police atrocities still prevail despite constitutional
Custodial death is considered to be the cruellest form of human rights
violation. It is forbidden by the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court, the
National Human Rights Commission, and the United Nations. Maintaining the
balance between need of law enforcement and protection from oppression and
injustice at the hands of law enforcement agencies is the need of the hour.
Therefore, this is the need of the hour that there may be maintained an equal
balance between the individual human rights and societal interests to combat the
criminal activities and offences with the aid of a realistic approach (Joginder
Kumar V. State of Uttar Pradesh ). Violence against women which is also condoned
by the state also includes custodial violence, violence against refugees,
internally displaced women.
Despite this being held in numerous numbers of judgements and various precedents
which has been set earlier, just because a person is in police custody or
detained under arrest does not deprive him of his basic fundamental rights and
is wholly eligible to move to either High Court or Supreme Court under Article
226 and 32 of the Constitution of India respectively.
- Indian Evidence Act 1872
Section 25 of the said act states a confession made by an accused in front of a
police officer of any offence owing to the threats from a person in authority,
would be considered irrelevant in criminal proceedings.
- Code of Criminal Procedure
Section 176 of the said act mentions compulsory magisterial inquiry is to
take place on the death of an accused caused in police custody.
- Indian Police Act
Section 7 and 29 of the Act provided for dismissal, penalty or suspension of
negligent police officers.
- Indian Penal Code
The judgement of Mathura Rape Case brought an amendment in Sec 376 of IPC. It
now penalises custodial rape committed by the police officers.
Sec 330, 331, 342 and 348 of Indian Penal Code has ostensibly been designed to
deter a police officer, who is empowered to arrest a person to restrain him from
using third degree methods, causing "torture", while conducting an investigation
or interrogating a person.
Article 22 of Constitution of India ensure protection against detention in
Article 20(3) Constitution of India provides rights not to be compelled to be a
witness against own self.
Right to live with human dignity was upheld in the case of "PUCL & Anr. V. State
of Maharashtra & Ors." But there are also several instances where despite of the
availability of rights to the citizens, they undergo ordeal, faces violence
which are detrimental to the masses having the liberty to enjoy human rights.
Law Commission of India 273rd report called for implementation of United Nations
Convention against Torture. The report had recommended that individuals
committing custodial torture to be criminally prosecuted against the custodial
violence and death. Continuous monitoring over police administration relating to
detention and torture of suspects and detainees be made by judicial officers.
J Prabhavathiamma v/s The State of Kerala & Ors
WP No. 24258 of 2007
Nazar J. observed that the acts of the accused persons would definitely
adversely affect the transparency of the very institution of the police
department. The court awarded death sentence to the two police personnel.
Munshi Singh Gautam v/s State of Madhya Pradesh
Appeal (Crl) 919 of 1999
The Supreme Court of India while delivering the judgement in this case observed
that "the torture, assault and death in custody which are of dehumanising nature
have assumed and extended on a large scale which evidently puts mark of question
upon the administration of the criminal justice system, whose object is to
entail fairness and justice for all."
Yashwant And Ors v/s State of Maharashtra
(2018) 4 MLJ (Crl) 10(SC)
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of nine Maharashtra cops in relation
with a 1993 custodial death case and extended their jail terms from three to
seven years each. The judgement was given by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and J M.M
Rajan Case Verdict (1977)
The engineering course enrolled student was arrested by the police, he was never
produced before the court and in a Habeas Corpus suit filed by the detainee's
father the fact came out that the boy was killed in the police custody itself.
Smt Soubhagya v/s The Chief Secretary State of Karnataka (2001)
The Apex Court observed that an accused cannot be deprived to enjoy the
fundamental rights guaranteed to him under Article 14 and 21 of The Constitution
of India as our country is signatory to the UNO Convention of Human Rights
Declaration Act, 1948.
The court by taking into consideration the various guidelines ruled for
pecuniary compensation in favour of the claimants, thus awarding damages in
favour of the victims.
While the general universal and regional human rights treaties do not contain an
express obligation to prevent arbitrary deaths, obligations to prevent are
commonly understood to prevent arbitrary deaths, obligations to prevent are
commonly understood to be the same as the obligation to ensure the right to
life. States have to take proper measures to ensure that right to life extends
to obligations to prevent arbitrary deaths.
Shaping the legislative and administrative to deter torture requires that states
make acts of torture and ill treatment punishable by law, whether committed by
state officials or non-state actors. The legal and administrative framework
should include procedural safeguards to deter torture and ill-treatment in
situations of detention. Individuals deprived of their liberty are at risk of
torture, which adds to the breach of human rights, and that the risk is enhanced
when individuals are held incommunicado.
The instrumental mechanisms providing
for rules, regulations, and safeguards in relationship to phases of detention,
as access to medical and legal assistance, and judicial supervision mitigate the
risk of torture. the prevention of torture and ill treatment has been stressed
endlessly going so far as to state that "Habeas Corpus represents the ideal
means" to protect the detainees against torture as the circumstances was
observed in the Rajan case. Thus, strict adherence with law and respecting the
human rights that all people enjoy will evidently make up a welfare state.
- The prevention of gross human rights violations under International Human Rights
- Human Right to a healthy environment, edited by John Knox and Ramin Pejan
- United Nations Human Rights Survey Report.