• Lex Valorem


Custodial Violence is an extremely venerable concern since the British Rule and not only in India but it has been a global issue. We constantly hear and read about this affair and hope that ‘Custodial Deaths’ would come to an end. Wailing over this issue won’t serve any purpose . Anticipating and wishing that this would come to an end is insane on our part. This is such an inhumane act on part of our administration and such activities of transgression has in some or the other way led to distrust among the masses.

Custodial violence is a non-natural death of a person in the custody of sovereign- state I.e. police or in a judicial custody. It is considered as basic egregious violation of protection of human rights. This abuse of power by the police officers includes all the physical suffering and mental suffering caused to a person in the custody. These custodial violations have drawn consideration of public, judiciary, legislature and the media. Initiatives taken by National Human Rights Commission have demonstrated their concern for combating torture and maintaining human dignity. According to a survey report,“A total of 1,731 people died in custody in India during 2019. This works out to almost five such deaths daily, according to a report by a rights group released on Friday. “Out of the 125 deaths in police custody, Uttar Pradesh topped with 14 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu and Punjab with 11 deaths each and Bihar with 10 deaths,” said the report published by the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT).”

Recently , a three judge bench of the supreme court headed by Justice UU Lalit on 21-08-2020 directed the Registry to list a PIL seeking guidelines to curb custodial violence. In the exercise of the constitutional power under Article 142 , The People’s Charioteer Organization filed a petition to the Apex Court imploring the court to frame guidelines to restrain custodial violence (which includes torture, death, rape) for PRO BONO PUBLICO.

The ongoing instance of custodial brutality of Jeyaraj-Bennixhas brought into light the presence of genuine infirmity in the framework endured by the Indian criminal justice system. This incident took place on 18th of June Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district when the state government imposed 8pm curfew during the pandemic of covid-19. they had a mobile shop which was opened for 15 minutes after the curfew was imposed the police rebuked Jeyaraj (62) and took him under their custody as soon as Bennix came to know he with his friends rushed to the police station where he saw his father being beaten up by the police officers by kicking with their shoes on to his chest. When Bennix tried to stop . they pushed him towards the wall and started beating him to an extent that they inserted a baton into his anus which caused uncontrolled bleeding.The pair were so severely attacked by a police officers that they were absorbed blood.Bennix surrendered to his wounds on June 22 and his dad the next morning. The family on seeing the dead bodies claimed that they have been tortured to death and demanded justice.

This incident affirms infraction and abuse of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of our Constitution.

The Safeguards for custodial violence provided under the constitution are:

  • Article 20 , 21 and 22 have a direct nexus as the aim is to secure that definite checks exists in the law to forbid abuse of power of arrest and detention.

  • Article 20(1) prohibits retrospective operation of Penal legislation.

  • Article 20(2) to guards against double jeopardy for the same offence.

  • Article 20 (3) provides against self incrimination .

These three clauses may develop an impression of supervising three distinct subjects of a set yet there is a perpetual theme going through every one of them in particular the tension to guarantee that the different phases of the criminal justice system will not be utilized to mistreat the charged person.

Article 20(3) is straightforwardly pertinent and another significant shield against custodial brutality it ensures the privilege against self-implication. the privilege doesn't gives invulnerability from the prosecution based on constrained oral proof. Only willful and deliberate explanations or statements made by the accused to the court are admissible.

Article 21 of the constitution provides“that no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.” It doesn't contain any express outline against torture or custodial violations the word "life or personal liberty" ensuing in the article has been interpreted to incorporate constitutional guarantee against torture assault or injury against a person under the arrest or under custody.

Article 22(2) “ provides that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to court of Magistrate and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the prescribed period without the authority of a Magistrate.”

Drawbacks in the System

The main loophole to hold police officers accountable for custodial death lies on the part of the criminal justice system. As according to procedure, The judicial magistrate is required to investigate into cases of custodial deaths. The police officers are required to register an F.I.R. and investigation report to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and again make a report on the findings of NHRC and Magistrate. But there is fault on both the agencies of the system as both these bodies belong to the Executive branch of the Government so there are chances that fair inquiry will not be conducted and tried. The maximum punishment given to Police officers is suspension or they are dismissed. These kinds of punishment does not serve the justice as life of an person( accused) and termination/ suspension cannot stand on the same foot. Somewhere Article 22 adds conflict in this matter as the detained person has to produced within 24 hrs before the court. This also creates an alarm in the minds of police officers to conduct the investigation within the time limit due to which they use excessive force which ultimately results in death of a person.

Suggestions to overcome the loopholes:

1. The solution is to make a separate independent body or agency for investigation in such matters along with the NHRC for an unbiased investigation into this matter. .

2. The report of the investigation shall be submitted or the trial of such matters shall be dealt by Special courts.

3. The courts shall act vigilantly in such matters and further frame such guidelines to conduct the inquiry.


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