Custodial death – Today Current Affairs
- India has a poor record in terms of police brutality and custodial violence. Between 2001 and 2018, 1,727 people died in police custody, but only 26 policemen were convicted in these cases.
- Custodial deaths are common despite huge expenditure of time and money on training police personnel to adopt scientific methods to investigate crimes. This is because policemen are human from different backgrounds and different perspectives.
- In this context, it would be relevant to consider the questions relating to custodial deaths.
Today Current Affairs
Custodial deaths mean:
- Custodial Deaths or ‘Custodial Deaths’ means the death of persons in police custody or while serving a sentence in judicial custody or imprisonment during trial.
- It is not a secret that when the police are not satisfied with the findings obtained during their interrogation, they sometimes resort to torture and violence, which can lead to the death of the suspect.
- It includes torture, death and other excesses in police custody or imprisonment.
Scenario of Custodial Deaths in India : The Hindu Analysis
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, there have been 1,888 custodial deaths, 893 cases filed against policemen and charge sheets filed against 358 policemen across the country in the last 20 years. But according to official records, only 26 policemen were convicted in the same period.
- Except in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, no policeman was held responsible for such deaths anywhere else in the country.
- In addition to custodial deaths, more than 2,000 human rights violations were also registered against the police between 2000 and 2018, and only 344 policemen were convicted in those cases.
What are the possible causes of custodial deaths?
Lack of strong law : The Hindu Analysis
- Anti-torture Legislation does not exist in India, nor has Custodial Violence been declared a crime, while the status of action against the guilty policemen/officers is also unsatisfactory.
Institutional Challenges : The Hindu Analysis
- The entire prison system is inherently vague and gives little opportunity for transparency.
- India has also failed to bring much-needed prison reforms and prisons continue to suffer from poor conditions, overcrowding, and acute shortage of personnel and lack of minimum safeguards against violence/trauma in prisons.
Extreme coercion : The Hindu Analysis
- The state tends to use extreme coercion including torture, the victims of which are marginalized communities. The state also resorts to the use of coercion to control those participating in movements or propagating ideologies that the state considers against itself or sees as a threat.
Long Judicial Processes : The Hindu Analysis
- The lengthy, costly formal procedures followed by the courts discourage the poor and vulnerable.
Not Compliance with International Standard : The Hindu Analysis
- Although India had signed the United Nations Convention against Torture in the year 1997, it has not ratified it yet.
- While this signature only indicates the country’s intention to fulfill the obligations stipulated in the treaty, its ratification or ratification will pave the way for the creation of laws and mechanisms to fulfill the commitments.
What Provisions Are Available With respect to Custody?
Article 21 : The Hindu Analysis
- Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
- Protection from torture is a fundamental right under Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.
Article 22 : The Hindu Analysis
- Article 22 provides for “protection from arrest and detention in certain cases”.
- Under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India, a person has a fundamental right to seek advice and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his interest.
Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) : The Hindu Analysis
- Section 41 of the CrPC was amended in the year 2009 and safeguards were added to ensure that proper grounds and documentary procedures are followed for arrest and detention for interrogation, making arrest transparent to family, friends and general public and be protected through legal representation.
Mathura Case of 1972 : The Hindu Analysis
- The Mathura rape case was a serious case of custodial rape that took place on March 26, 1972. A tribal girl named Mathura was allegedly raped by two policemen in the premises of Desaiganj police station in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra.
- This case prompted the Indian government to amend rape laws in the country and in 1983 a new category was added to the criminal laws dealing with rape.
- Provision has been made in the law that if a woman says that she did not consent to sex, then the court will hear that she is telling the truth.
- The Mathura case also paved the way for in-camera trial as a closed proceeding and subsequent ban on marking rape victims by their real names.
- Besides defining custodial rape, the amendment shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.
- Provision was also made that women could not be called to the police station before sunrise and after sunset.
Role of technology in relation to custodial interrogation
Brain Fingerprint System (BFS) : The Hindu Analysis
- BFS is a type of lie-detection technique through which a person’s brain waves are measured to find out whether a person is telling the truth while answering the questions asked.
- This technology helps the investigating agencies to find clues in complex cases.
Robot : The Hindu Analysis
- Robots are increasingly being used by the police department for surveillance and for bomb detection.
- Many experts believe that robots can perform the same role as or better than a human interrogator in interrogation.
- Suspects may be more receptive to automated conversational robots than to police to uncover the truth.
- Robots equipped with AI and sensor technology can form a seamless connection with suspects, use persuasive techniques such as flattery, shaming and pressure, and strategically use body language.
- The University of Arizona has developed an automated interrogation technology called ‘Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in RealTime (AVATAR)’.
- It uses visual, auditory, near-infrared and other sensors to test the suspect’s eye movements, voice and other things during interrogation.
AI : The Hindu Analysis
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are emerging as tools of inquiry. AI can detect human emotions and predict behaviour.
- The ML can immediately alert the superiors when the police are treating the suspects in an inhumane manner.
Related concerns : The Hindu Analysis
- With the use of technology comes the risk of bias, skepticism associated with automated interrogation tactics, the risk of machine learning algorithms targeting individuals and communities, and its misuse for surveillance.
- While the technologies available to police and law enforcement agencies are constantly improving, it is only a limited means that cannot completely eliminate custodial deaths.