For years, The Human Rights activists in India and abroad have been trying to draw world’s attention on the Human Right violation and violence perpetuated by those who are charged with the duty of enforcing the law and keeping us safe from crime. A report published by Human Rights Watch, ‘Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police’ gives us a clear view of outside the law activities by police like tortures, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention etc. “India is modernizing rapidly, but the police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system.”
The idea of Police being so brutal traces back to German Philosopher Max Weber who gave us the idea of State’s monopoly over violence and said ‘A state is a political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly over the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.’ The baseline principle here is that ‘In order to maintain a monopoly on legitimate violence, states must limit the means by which others may carry out violent acts.’ And thus, police and the military are the state’s main instruments of legitimate violence but the whole idea has taken a completely new form where legitimate use of powers and force in gone.
Take the examples of Mohd. Aamir Khan, a Delhi born man who was offered a job, where he was falsely framed as an accused of multiple blasts which took place in Delhi in 1997. It took him more than fourteen years to prove his innocence. Among the most heinous crimes committed by the police is torture which is banned under International human Rights Law. Police tortured Aamir to the extent they could but the young man didn’t give up. Also police was able to obtain his signatures on innumerable black pieces of paper and made him write on diaries. Now the question arises, why did the police frame Aamir? One possible explanation can be that they were under tremendous pressure to catch the accused of blasts that they falsely framed this man. Or it could be just greed? That, they wanted prize money and awards by catching the accused.
There exists no record of how many people were framed by the police; how many have been able to prove that they were innocent and whether any policeman has been punished for falsely framing an innocent citizen. Late Justice Anand Narain Mulla, Allahabad High Court describes it beautifully that:
‘There is not a single lawless group in the whole of the country whose record of crimes comes anywhere near the record of that single unit which is known as The Indian Police Force.’
Not only our Indian Police Force has become more brutal since he wrote these much discussed words, they are being given rewards and medals despite committing unspeakable crimes and Human Rights violation against the citizen of India. The recent example of Premlal’s case describes it exquisitely. Premlal was framed in eighteen false criminal cases from 1991 to 2007. All this started when he first filed an FIR in the police station regarding a theft, which took place in his house. Police recovered the jewellery and other goods but did not return them to Premlal. On coming to know he filed a case against the officer, this of his act fell upon him only and he ended up spending seven years in jail. He was framed falsely and strategically by police for years. Pages will fall short when one will start counting the cases of Human Rights violation by Police.
Stanford Prisoner experiment (1971) which was conducted to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power explains us one of the main reasons of Police being so brutal. This experiment showed that if someone is given power over other people then lack of oversight, sadism and abuse of privilege won’t be far away. Another clearly visible reason for police being so brutal is the very nature of The Indian Police Act, 1861; a law which was passed by The British to counter the revolt against them. Also, India currently has only 130 policemen per 1 Lakh people, which is very low and results in concentration of power in a few hands. Lack of reforms comes up as another reason as there have been several committees for reforming Indian Police Service and not even a single committee’s recommendations have yet been implemented.
Recently UP government rubbed salt on the wounds of people by providing policemen more powers in form of Anti-Romeo Squad, which they misused widely as they do, a recent case shown up where a boy and a girl were casually walking together on the road with each other’s consent, when two policemen came and started beating the boy and then bald headed him while the girl kept screaming. So this futile debate over increasing the power of police should be put aside and we need to work towards reforming of this broken system where policemen have the liberty to do anything. “Police who commit or order torture and other abuses need to be treated as the criminals they are,” says Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Also our Hon’ble courts need to have more judicial vigilance and must entertain every complaint filed against police brutality and bring offenders to justice. This is the time that it must be made abundantly clear to the policemen that if they employ any unnecessary and excessive use of force on innocent citizen, they’ll have to face the consequences.
Pratul Pratap Singh
Institute Of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad