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Respecting life and the trust deficit- a call for immediate remedy

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” Also, it is stated in Article 22 that “No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.” India’s Apex Court, The Supreme Court clearly states that in matter relating to basic human rights or personal liberty, International laws should be taken into account on top of the articles provided by the Constitution of India. In spite of having all these provisions in the Indian Constitution relating to basic human rights and Liberty, there are reports of unrelenting violations of human rights and torture in Police custody during interrogation and even custodial deaths on a regular basis.
To torture an individual in Police custody during interrogation is an inhumane act and one of the most condemnable acts in human civilization. Such act has no place in a civilized nation. If such type of act occurs, then it can be said that we are regressing as a society. The duties of a police officer, also known as a law enforcement officer, are to focus on protecting people and property. But if these custodians of law happen to act the opposite and start torturing individuals while in custody, who will the common people turn to for protection? Such atrocities by the Police and other law enforcement agencies towards the people is the single biggest reason for the common public for losing confidence in the Law of the Land.
To arrest and book a culprit is a basic duty of the police. But to interrogate a culprit and torture using 3rd degree methods in Police custody is not permitted by the law. If a culprit or suspect is to be interrogated then it should be done in a scientific way. Police should understand the values of human life. In one way, those Police which have wronged and used extrajudicial force should not be spared too. Regardless of ranks and social stature, those who have wronged should be judged and punished as according to the rule of law in full purview of the Public. Those who are representing the state should all work in a way which is acceptable and appreciable by the general people who are looking up to these authorized law enforcers to protect their rights and lives. Victims of Custodial death whose rights have been violated can now appeal to law court for compensation from state and to punish those responsible behind the death and these has now become the law of the land.
A Verdict by Supreme Court clearly mentions that a culprit who is convicted or those undergoing trial has to enjoy all the fundamental rights mentioned in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and the state has to ensure that the rights are not violated in any way. To strip an individual of all its rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution after arrest is wrong. A convict lodged in Jail or those undergoing trial should be given his basic Fundamental rights and this has to be ensure by the competent Jail authorities and the Police. If any individual is violated of his/her basic rights while in custody, state should take appropriate action against those responsible.  In such case, state cannot escape citing “Sovereign Immunity”, clearly states the Supreme Court of India. People living a carefree and happy life is the most important law, as per Supreme Court of India.
In a landmark verdict by the Supreme Court of India in 1997, the apex court rules that any individual who has been arrested or is going to be arrested should be given his Right to Live. The ruling announces 11 points to be followed by the Police and other related authorities. One of the points mentioned that a Police officer should make his identity clear and should wear a badge while making his arrest and a valid arrest memo is to be used duly signed by two individuals, the arrested individual is to have routine health checkup every 48hrs by Doctors appointed by State Health Directorate and a lawyer of the accused should be present during the entire interrogation. The ruling further states that those Police officers violating these points by Supreme Court can result in Departmental action and even Contempt Case can be registered against the authorities in a High Court. Violating this ruling of the Apex Court, an SP in Assam was slapped with 50thousand rupees fine and two years conviction.  
There is still a long way to go in making the general public reinvest their trust and confidence in the law enforcers of the land. Until the trust and support of the mass can be won, every other step towards improving law and order in a state or a country will remain a tantalizing dream. It is the onus of the state and central government to do the needful at the earliest.

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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