DEATH IN CUSTODY ASHOK PRIYADARSHI
Custodial death has raised lot of noise around the country putting the police in the dock. Many prisoners have died in detention but no attention was paid and no voice was ever raised. Information is that many have died due to torture in police stations. Doubts have even been raised in death of persons in encounters. Before the National Human Right Commission complaints of such deaths have been made in large number and it has high on its agenda, the protection of civil liberty. It has taken a serious note of custodial deaths and have written to all the state governments to report to it any matter of custodial death. Seeing the increase in these types of deaths the National Human Rights Commission has opined that compensation to paid in custodial death cases should be born by the public officer responsible and not by the state, as the state exchequer should not be put to a loss on an unlawful illegal act of a government servant. Custodial death is in large numbers in states , which are activist prone or where the administration or basically the police has become disgusted with the criminal activity of certain notorious criminals. Section 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code makes punishable those persons, who have caused hurt to persons for the purpose of extorting the confession by making the offence punishable with sentence up to 10 years of imprisonment. The Supreme Court held that conviction for custodial death has been very few because the precincts of the police station are often left without any ocular or other direct evidence who the offenders are. It has further held that rarely in cases of police torture or custodial death, direct ocular evidence of the complicity of the police officials alone who can explain the circumstances in which the person has died in their custody had died. Bound as they are by the ties of brotherhood , it is not known that the police personals prefer to remain silent to save their colleagues. It has also been found that the exaggerated adherence to and insistence upon the establishment of proof beyond every reasonable doubt by the prosecution , ignoring the ground realities, the fact, situation and the peculiar circumstances of the given case often result in the miscarriage of justice and makes the justice delivery system suspect. In the ultimate analysis the society suffers and the criminal gets encouraged similarly the torture in police custody has increased due to the aforesaid unrealistic approach of the courts because it reinforces the belief in the mind of the police that no harm would come to them if an odd prisoner dies in the lock-up because there would hardly be any evidence available to the prosecution to directly implicate them with torture. The Supreme Court has directed the courts that they must not loose sight of the fact that death in police custody is perhaps one of the worst kind of crimes in a civilized society. Torture in custody is taken to be a flout to the basic right of a citizen recognized by the Indian Constitution and in affront to human dignity. The image of any civilized nation is tarnished and further encourages the officers concerned and they start thinking that they are themselves above law is an allegation of custodial death is not looked into and stern measures are taken to check the malady. The Supreme Court in theses matter has directed the courts to deal such cases with realistic approach and with a sensivity as it may result in loosing of faith in the judiciary by the common man. In cases where persons have died in encounters have also been questioned by many organization before the judiciary and they have raised their voice calling it to be police atrocities . This has not only effected the reputation of the police and no action by the judiciary had encouraged them to adopt other majors also to book the delinquent and extract evidences of their choose by putting in illegal detention and confinement in police custody of innocent children belonging to the family of the accused on condition that they would be released only on the surrender of the accused . Seeing the increase of custodial deaths and reports of police high handedness the Law Commission Of India in its 113th Report has recommended amendments to the Indian Evidence Act so as in the prosecution of a police officer for an alleged offence of having caused bodily injuries to a person while in police custody, if there is evidence that the injury was caused in police custody, the court may presume that the injury was caused while in the police custody , the courts may presume that the said injury has been caused by the police officer having the custody unless the police officer proves to the contrary. The result is that the onus to prove the contrary must be discharged by the police official concerned. The Supreme Court has expressed its desire that the legislature will give a serious thought over the recommendations of the Law Commission Of India and bring in appropriate changes to crab the custodial deaths and to see that the custodial crimes doesnot go unpunished.
In result many police officials are being booked under the law for the deaths in custody .