“As members of a secular, democratic state, the police should strive continually to rise above personal prejudices and promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women and disadvantaged sections of society.”
It is ironic how the administrator of justice has now become the new perpetrators of crimes in India. The police brutality takes different forms like Custodial death, Encounters, lathi- charge, corruption, etc. For a long time, prisoners in India have been exposed to torture and violence. India has seen a rise in the number of custodial deaths in the past, but there is no clear legislation that tackles the need to escape torture in custody and protect prisoners from violence. Often the police officers who cause those injuries are either transferred or left with warnings.
Yet we see that police officers while discharging official duties do not fully undertake their responsibilities and misuse their authority for personal or official benefit. They violate their social contracts and engage in different practices that are unscrupulous. It is possible to describe such unlawful behavior or inappropriate action as police misconduct. Such unlawful behavior by police officers or the use of undue authority, which is reasonably necessary, leads to miscarriage of justice, discrimination and obstruction of justice.
Ø Recent Incidents
Hyderabad Rape Case, 7 December, 2019
Last December, during a visit to the crime scene, police shot dead four men involved in the high-profile rape and killing of a young woman whose body had been set on fire. Around 2,000 people gathered at the scene hours after the killings to celebrate, passing out sweets and showering the officers with flower petals.
Jamia Milia Incident, 15 December, 2019
As the nationwide protests against CAA and NRC raged on, the nation on December 15, 2019, witnessed an obscene misuse of authority, as armed police and paramilitary forces stormed the gates of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, to violently quell the student protests. The students watched in fear as tear gas, rubber bullets, lathi-charged students and vandalised campus property were shelled by the authority tasked with the protection of law and order.
The police used brute force against unarmed protesters and shouted ‘anti-national’ remarks at them. Students were evacuated in an unlawful way from the campus, holding their hands above their heads. This ignited nationwide condemnation, and students across India protested against the unwarranted violence of the Delhi police.
Northeast Delhi riots, February 23, 2020
Another gruesome blotch in Delhi’s history, which witnessed large-scale bloodshed and violence, was the Delhi communal riots that took 53 lives. Among the 53, two-thirds were Muslims, and some from the community were absent by mid-March. The perpetrators of violence were pegged to be unruly Hindu mobs, carrying saffron flags, who fatally attacked many Muslim civilians unprovoked. On social media, a viral video made rounds where five men were seen lying on the street, surrounded by armed police prodding them to sing the national anthem.
Police Violence During Lockdown, April 2020
On March 23, 2020, a nationwide lockdown was imposed to combat the causes of a coronavirus pandemic, which came into effect immediately without allowing people time to chalk out their preparations for the next 30 odd days. Under the impact of the lockdown, the nation was reeling and the financially weak were struggling to find economic purchases to tide over the next month.
Numerous reports of gruesome brutality at the hands of the police emerged just a week after the lockdown. Since pre-colonial days, the first act of response by the police has been to punish or disperse crowds by lathi-charge. Jayaraj and Fennix Immanuel were subjected to brutal torture in police custody and later succumbed to death. This was not the first incident.
Vikas Dubey Encounter, 10 July 2020
In an alleged shootout, Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey, the lead accused in the killing of eight policemen in Kanpur, was shot dead. According to the UP Police, when the special task force took him back from Ujjain to Kanpur, the car he was in overturned, and Dubey tried to escape. Dubey also fired at the police as he was escaping before being killed by UP police. In addition to Dubey, the police have also killed five of his associates in reported encounters over the last weeks.
Farmer’s Bill Protest, 18 September 2020
During farmer’s protests against the latest Farmers Bills being introduced in Parliament, the plaintiff, a farmers’ party ‘Sabka Mangal Ho’, had moved the High Court alleging police excesses. The complainant alleged that police officers who were both in uniform and not in uniform, charged participants with lathi-charges. After several farmers were wounded, they were also not provided with medical help.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the Director-General of Police in the State of Haryana to ensure police adherence in strict letter and spirit with the guidelines provided by the Supreme Court in the DK Basu v. State of West Bengal to provide protections against police excesses.
Hathras Case, 29 September 2020
The dead body of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gang-raped by four upper caste men was forcibly burned in the dead of the night. The Uttar Pradesh police did not let the devastated family see their daughter for one last time. Different media sources have provided varying accounts of what actually happened before and during the cremation of the victim. One thing is for certain, however, that at 2:00 am, the UP authorities cremated the victim’s body.
The Allahabad High Court took suo moto cognizance of the incident on October 1, 2020. The bench chaired by Rajan Roy and Jaspreet Singh observed that-
“The matter before us is of immense public importance and public interest as it involves allegation of high handedness by the State Authorities resulting in violation of the basic human and fundamental rights not only of the deceased victim but also of her family members. As it is, the decea