Custodial torture and violence have become so prevalent in India that a lot of us don’t even know that it is illegal and unethical. Terms like third degree torture is commonly used in the Indian police department. A lot of human rights departments of several States have tried to raise the voices but things have remained unchanged from the past couple of decades.
Custodial torture is not only limited to the physical torture that the inmates face but is also the mental torture that one has to go through.
NCAT report: A mirror to the harsh truth
National campaign against torture (NCAT) released a report on 26th of june (2020) which states that 1731 people died in custody in the year 2019, out of which 125 people died in police custody and the rest died in the judicial custody.
Extent of police brutality:
Police And jail officials since, operate in closed systems, have a sense of entitlement and impunity.
Custodial brutality ranges from acts like slapping, kicking with boots, beating with sticks, pulling hair, to extreme tortured that includes methods like using roller on legs and burning (as happened to Rizwan Asad Pandit of Jammu & Kashmir), and ‘falanga’ or beating with sticks on the soles (as with Rajkumar of Kerala).
Sometimes, the police and jail staff even go to the extent of stabbing people with a screwdriver (as Pradeep Tomar of Uttar Pradesh was subjected to) or giving electric shock (as with Yadav Lal Prasad of Punjab and Monu of Uttar Pradesh). There have been instances of cops pouring petrol on private parts (as in the case of Monu of Uttar Pradesh) or applying chilly powder to them (in the case of Raj Kumar of Kerala)
Sexual crimes also perpetrated by the custodians of law
As part of torture, the report pointed to cases women inmates continue to be tortured or targeted for sexual violence in custody.
In this regard, the report said a 35-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly illegally detained, subjected to torture and gang raped in police custody by nine police personnel at Sardarshahar police station in Churu district of Rajasthan. Her nails were also plucked by the cops who tortured her, the report said.
Poor and marginalised are the real target.
These cases are mostly associated with the marginalised and the poor strata of the society, because of which most of them are not able to afford justice and a lot of these cases go unnoticed and get lost in the files in the department for years. Strict action is only taken when a case is recognised and is talked about in the media, even then the people responsible are often suspended and then reinstated when the situation cools down.
What does the law say about custodial torture?
Section 154 of CRPC requires compulsory registration of FIR against any offence, even if it is committed by a police servant.
Section 197 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 sanctions state and Central Government to take action against any public servant on the course of their duty.
Section 176(1)(A) CrPC provides the right to separate legal investigation for death, disappearance and rape in police custody.
Custodial torture is probably one of the most cruelest types of human abuse.
Article 20 of the constitution of India states that no one is legally allowed to convince anyone to be a culprit, moreover neither can anyone make someone confess to something by torture.
Article 21 of the constitution of India gives every citizen the right to life which is much more than mere living. It also states that a person has the right to personal liberty giving him the freedom live as the citizen wants.
Article 22 gives four basic rights to every citizen, to be informed on the grounds of arrest, to be assigned a legal practitioner of his or her own choice, preventive detention laws and the right to be produced in front of a magistrate within 24 hours of the conviction.
Most of these cases remain unnoticed because culprits in these cases are often the ones who are responsible to take action against the cases. The Indian judicial system is in a dire need of a reform against these torturous acts committed by the people who are supposed to protect us and make us feel safe.