CUSTODIAL VIOLENCE


The term custodial Violence has not been defined under any law. It is a combination of two words ‘custody’ and ‘violence’. The word custody denotes guardianship and protection, it does not hold any evil symptoms even when applied to arrest or imprisonment under judicial and penal safekeeping.[2] The term violence in literal sense is the behavior of inflicting injuries to a person or property by the use of unjustified force.

Indian movies portray the police torture as entertainment, where the protagonist of the story encounters a villain, consequently encourages the crime of custodial violence or we can say it makes crime seems less grave or serious to the society.

Custodial violence is a widespread unaccounted ailment and rarely prosecuted. It escalates the state of lawlessness in many parts of the country. In a recent report by National Crime Record Bureau, a total of 591 cases of death were recorded in police/judicial custody between 2010 and 2015, cited with the reasons of death as suicide, death during hospitalization, or natural death through illness.

According to reports by NCRB, around 265 deaths were recorded with zero conviction by the state between the period of 2016 and 2018.[4] Violence serves as the easiest and cheap method of investigation and as a tool for oppression. Police officers are notorious for using third-degree torture techniques as means of investigation to get a confession or any information.

This show of ‘instant justice’ demonstrated by the police, a civil force of state vested with authority and duty to maintain law and order in society by themselves, ruins the pillars of social order and justice in our society. This gives an impression of courts and lawyers being mere accessories and the power of imparting justice vested in the hands of unauthorized vigilantes.

The court in Joginder Kumar Vs. State of Uttar Pradeshconsidered several ways of the misuse of the power of arrest by police and opined:
“No arrest can be made because it is lawful for the police officer to do so. The existence of the power of arrest is one thing. The justification for the exercise of it is quite another…There must be some reasonable justification in the opinion of the officer effecting the arrest that such arrest is necessary and justified.”

Concept of custodial violence
Types and Forms:
Section 167 of the CrPC talks about two types of Custody i.e police custody and judicial custody. Therefore we can divide Custodial violence into two types namely:
Violence in police custody
This type of violence occurs when police torture the accused to sustain interrogation and find the truth. There are hardly any safeguards to ensure the person in the custody will have timely access to his lawyer or record of his detention, or a proper medical examination.

Violence in judicial custody
This type of violence can usually be seen in prisons or detention centres where the violence is acted out by the inmate gangs who have unrestricted power to commit ill acts. Innocent prisoners get caught in the clutches of these gangs and beaten up if they don’t show allegiance to them. This kind of violence pushes the victim to commit suicide.

Forms of custodial violence

  1. Psychological
    It attacks the mental composure and stability of the person by the methods like injecting false information, threats, humiliation, or depriving the victim of water, food, sleep, and toilet.
  2. Physical
    It involves causing disfiguration and exhaustion also, causing the victim torture to such degree that the victim feels fear of instant death.
  3. Sexual
    The violence of sexual nature impacts the mind of the victim socially and psychologically. It targets the victim’s dignity.

Human Rights and Custodial Violence
The highest form of fundamental rights is human dignity, respected even by our Constitution which is considered to be the most prestigious statute book of our nation. Article 21 of the Indian constitution guarantees an individual the right to life with dignity and personal liberty. Whenever an individual is taken into custody it becomes the legal property of the state, wearing the cloak of legal guardian. All the institutions working under the state are at obligation to guard them. This notion has been blurred by the activity called custodial violence, the trait against human rights and dignity that brings out the perverse desire to commit such an act when there is almost no possibility of retaliation.

The recent incident that shook the nation and invited the rage of the nation, is the case of P.jeyaraj and J. bennix, father, and son were inhabitants of the Santhakulam in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, they were arrested and taken into custody by the local police under the accusation of opening the shop beyond the limit of curfew hours.[6] They were beaten brutally by the police officers and were succumbed to death in the local government hospital. This is the case of gross human rights violation.


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