The mounting levels of custodial deaths in the worlds largest democracy are alarming for the law of the land. The glaring numbers of increasing deaths show the travesty of the judicial system in India. Jerome H. Skolnick, professor at the Newyork University and former President of the American Society of Criminology, posed two fundamental questions before police for the preservation of democratic order and the rule of law.
For what social purpose does the police exist? What democratic value does police preserve in a democratic society? The commission also very pertinently believes that the oppressed are the worst suffers from custodial crimes. In 1980, Arun Shourie investigated 45 cases in police custody. He found that the pattern from one death to the other was fairly familiar. All the victims were poor, some of them were detained with no formal charges, and a few who had charges on them were petty offences.
Deaths In Judicial Custody
A total number of 348 people died in police custody in India. In contrast, 5221 died in judicial custody, informed Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai, while answering a question in Lok sabha.
Amnesty International and Asiawatch have been vociferously clamouring about the violation of Human rights in India by police and parliamentary forces. A human rights activist said that the accountability of the police officers in this regard could not be fixed as a case against an involved police officer cannot be fixed without government permission, and the authorities seem to have no open view about it. The accused taken under police custody are suspected to be criminals, but no law gives police the right to brutalize them in custody. It is high time the police and administrative system become sensitive towards the issue.
Various brutal forms of torture have been reported in the cases of custodial deaths. Torture through beating, electric shock, hanging victim upside down, sexual mutilation is a few ways of bludgeoning the victims.
The Central and State Governments issued strict instructions to relevant police officials and lower-ranking officers that all the arrested should be brought in front of the Magistrate within 24 hours. Furthermore, no torture or ill-treatment be permitted under any circumstances.
In contrast to the rules set, police officers found guilty in custodial deaths often manage to escape impunity, and the victim's relatives are not provided with remunerative compensation either. In the view of Amnesty International, criminal prosecution is essential means of demonstrating human rights abuses by police and government agencies.