Police Brutality In India By Shadan Seraj

Police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement. Protests against police brutality are happening across the USA. People are speaking out against years of oppression and mistreatment by the authorities on the basis of race. Police brutality, however, is not unique to the USA. It appears in other forms and in other countries, where it does not get the same public attention or media coverage.It also refers to a situation where officers exercise undue or excessive force against a person. Police violence includes but is not limited to physical or verbal harassment, physical or mental injury, property damage, inaction of police officers, and in some cases, death.
Police personnel in India usually subscribe to two kinds of violations. The first is corruption against individuals or institutions which usually targets the income or livelihood of the victim. Traffic police extort money from drivers on a daily basis. They are forced to pay weekly payments (haftas) or suffer extortion at the hands of policemen at frequent intervals simply to operate their business. The second category of criminal conduct practiced by the police is that of physical coercion against suspects of crime or agitators. This misconduct is usually targeted at lower income groups. These groups are regularly subject to harsh physical treatment and even the innocent run the risk of having false cases registered against them. All custodial deaths are largely those of poor or lower class people.

Rationale Behind Police Abuse

Police officers are legally permitted to use force. Jerome Herbert Skolnick writes in regards to dealing largely with disorderly elements of the society, some people working in law enforcement may gradually develop an attitude or sense of authority over society, particularly under traditional reaction-based policing models; in some cases, the police believe that they are above the law. According to Raghuraj Singh Chauhan, a senior officer, “The police in India are under tremendous pressure, as people need quick results. So we have to pick up and interrogate a lot of people. Sometimes things get out of control. After all, confessions cannot be extracted by love. The fear of police has to be kept alive – How else would you reduce crime?”. Moreover, the infrastructure and amenities provided to the police are rudimentary at best. For a country with nearly one twenty crore people, six lakh towns and villages there exist only 14,000 police stations with an astounding fifty lakh crimes which are registered every day. There is no provision given by the government for sufficient manpower, machines or facilities. In addition there is political intervention at all stages, with the police force as a pliant tool in the hands of notorious officials. It is the apathy of the common man and the insensitivity of the Government which has led to the accretion of power, and consequently abuse, of the police.

There have been many instances of police brutality, one of them is, The Rampur Tiraha firing involved police firing on unarmed Uttarakhand activists at Rampur Tiraha (crossing) in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in India on the night of 1–2 October 1994. The activists, part of the agitation for the separate state of Uttarakhand, were going to Delhi to stage a dharna at RajGhat on Gandhi Jayanti, the following day, when alleged unprovoked police firing in the night of 1 October led to the death of six activists, and some women were allegedly raped and molested in the ensuing melee. Another case was the case of the year 1999, The Manjolai Labourers massacre was a brutal police action on a procession taken out in support of agitating tea estate workers, claiming 17 lives in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Recently, during the 2019 Jamia Millia Islamia attack, during the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, police attacked student protesters as well as non-protesting students at the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia. On the same day, Police and Rapid Action Force injured several students — including some serious injuries — by firing tear-gas shells, rubber bullets, stun grenades and pellets at students of the Aligarh Muslim University protesting against the same act. The security forces reportedly hurled communal abuses at the students. The forces fired tear gas shells inside hostel rooms and set ablaze vehicles belonging to students. Another recent case was the custodial death of father and son. The duo had been beaten, brutally tortured, and sexually assaulted on 22 June, 2020.

According to Article 246, of the Indian Constitution, ‘Police’ comes on the State List of the Seventh Schedule, and it is beyond the jurisdiction of the respective State Governments to make laws governing the police in their State. While policing regulations have a clear federal structure, India is essentially a quasi-federal country and so the central government is still active in police force control. The Indian Police Act, 1861, is India’s basic law regulating the police; most states either follow this fundamental law or have laws that are moulded to it.

Rights to a person before he/she deals with Police

•The courts have explicitly given rules specifying that, during the inquiry, a police officer can not intimidate people and must write down minutes of the inquiry in the station log or the daily journal.
• Section 29 of the Indian Police Act, 1861 states that if a person is at the end of the misconduct due to a police officer’s omission of duty, the officer may be punished with up to 3 months’ imprisonment and up to 3 months’ salary penalty.
• If a person is summoned on the basis of being mentioned in a petition or listed as a witness, the police officer shall request a formal subpoena under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Practice, 1973, stating the date and time for attendance.
•It’s also suggested that an advocate can join you if you go to the police department to lodge a lawsuit against a police officer.
•During the event of police detention, there are two records you need to know about; search memo, and detention memo. An inspection memo is important because it states how you look like before being locked up and if you have any injuries before being locked up or not, so you won’t get injured during the investigation. Memo of Detention has clear details about the incident, including witness names, and there are no lies heard by the police perspective.
•Police Complaint Authority (PCA) was formed in 2006 for managing police complaints and improving the police system’s framework and way of operating. If there is a case of ‘serious wrongdoing’ the police officer may be found responsible. Anybody who has experienced police brutality will lodge a lawsuit with PCA.


The police department is responsible for upholding law and order in communities and preserving public safety as well as protecting its reputation. India’s Preamble clearly shows that no-one is above the law. Police officers are also unlikely to exercise excessive control or abuse their authority to threaten people in the garb of undertaking an investigation. Police are one of society’s most significant organisations. And the cops happen to be the government’s most prominent leaders. In an hour of risk, threat, disaster, and challenge, when a resident does not know what to do and how to contact, it happens that the police department and a policeman are the most appropriate and available unit and individual to him. Police are expected to be any society’s most accessible, interactive, and dynamic organization.
Officers have the task of enforcing and upholding the rule of law, not legislation. This break from past and current traditions would demand that they are isolated and granted practical autonomy from outside unconstitutional power and influence. When the police are granted practical authority, the wrongs they conduct must be kept accountable. The current governance systems need to be reinforced and enhanced. Furthermore, alternative systems need to be developed operating independently to track police activities and investigate public complaints against the police. Police success as an agency, and police staff actions as individuals both need continuous supervision.

References :

• https://thediplomat.com/2020/07/why-cant-india-end-police-brutality/
• https://www.google.com/amp/s/blog.ipleaders.in/law-rights-need-know-dealing-police/amp/
• https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cases_of_police_brutality_in_India#:~:text=2015%20%E2%80%93%20The%20Andhra%20shootout%20was,by%20the%20Tamil%20Nadu%20Police.
• https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/socialpolicy/2020/08/11/police-brutality-and-impunity-in-india/
• https://www.lawteacher.net/free-law-essays/indian-law/police-in-india.php
• https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_brutality

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