Police Brutality is a serious matter. More often than not, people belonging to lower-income groups are at the receiving end of police brutality in India. This article reflects on the above issue and discusses how police brutality can be tackled in today’s India.
There are many challenges faced by the lower rung of the society starting from their very basic needs to matters of justice. The preferential treatment of the elite class by the higher officials of the police department adds to the sufferings of the poor.
The Main Aim or Duties of Police Officials are:
- To prevent crime
- Protect human rights
- To investigate criminal offences
- To check public disorder
We often come across situations where we notice that police officers do not carry out their responsibilities in a judicious manner irrespective of the fact whether they are on duty or off duty. Moreover, they tend to misuse their power for personal or official gains.
They break their social contract and indulge in various unscrupulous activities. Such acts can be defined as police misconduct. These improper actions by police officials or the use of excessive power lead to :
- miscarriage of justice
- obstruction of justice.
Though the goals and objectives of police are noble, they are criticized and condemned for committing acts which are contrary to their political obligations and this is mainly because of the unjust use of powers given to them to fulfil their social responsibilities, thus, making them capable of abusing their power to trample the constitutional rights of people.
Challenges faced by the poor because of bad treatment by police
1. Illegal or false arrest or false imprisonment
- The police illegally arrest or falsely accuse poor people of crimes. They do so to earn illegal income from government officials or from politicians for their promotion in police rank.
- The police also take an advantage of their powers and make illegal arrests to take revenge from their enemies and put them in jail for several days or weeks.
- Sometimes police carry out fake encounters of people to take revenge. The police make a false arrest and keep the person for a month in illegal jail or detention.
- For the release of illegally arrested individuals, police officers ask their family for money to release the person.
2. False Evidence or False F.I.R.
- The term “evidence” means proof of a criminal offence. The police can collect false evidence and can also file false F.I.R. against poor people who don’t have much income or money to give them.
- Basically, when police officers need money or some other favours, they always file false F.I.R. against poor people who cannot do anything against them.
- The police officer can tamper the evidence and replace it with false evidence against the person to earn illegal money or if they are asked by any government official to do so.
3. Police Brutality
- Police Brutality is an example of violation of civil rights, where the police officer misuses his/her power and tortures poor people for a bribe, which often leads to the custodial death. There is no record of custodial deaths where the police officer misuses his/her power.
- In the case of police brutality, politicians or government officials are also involved with the police for any misuse of power or authority.
- The case of Nilabati Behra v. State of Orissa & Ors. [(1993(2) SCC 746]1 is an example of death caused by police brutality.
- Bribing is the most common corruption in any circumstance where the police always take bribes from poor or middle-class people.
- Bribing is an illegal course of an action where the police officer always compromises the security of people , which is harmful to society.
- There are Acts for the offence of bribing i.e., Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
5. Unwarranted Searches and Seizure of Property
- The police can make an unwarranted search and seize the property of poor people.
- The police misuse its power in the seizure of property of poor people or by vacating the property where they live so that builders can build a complex or mall illegally.
- Sometimes the police officer uses his/her power as a tool for harassment for the seizure of property illegally.
- Police officers get a huge amount of bribe from builders for vacating the property of poor people where they can build a complex or mall from which the builder can earn a huge amount of income.
Current Scenario of the Treatment of Poor by the Police
In the current scenario, the treatment of police towards the poor has totally changed. Poor people are given much more dignity and security from the police’s side now. There are various remedies provided to poor people in case of improper treatment by the police, which are as follows :
1. Police Complaints Authority
- The Supreme Court of India has instructed the government to set up a Police Complaint Authority at the state level and also at the district level.
- The Supreme Court of India stated this in the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006  SCC 1).
- The main aim of the Police Complaints Authority is to look into the complaints against the corrupt police officer.
- The government should provide free and hassle-free powers to this authority to take action against them.
2. Human Rights Commission
- The government has set up the Human Rights Commission for the prevention of violations of civil rights and human rights.
- This commission also safeguards poor people from illegal courses of action by the police.
- This commission can also initiate an investigation against the corrupt police officer who tortures people.
3. Involvement of NGOs and Media
- NGOs provide assistance and support to people who have been falsely framed in cases by the police.
- Media also work the same as NGOs but both of them often do sting operations against the corrupt police officers.
- NGOs provide financial support and livelihood to poor people in the wake of offence against them.
The Police department is an established body responsible for maintaining law and order in the society against the ill-treatment of the poor or anyone needy in the society but the sole purpose of the department is not being entirely fulfilled. Earlier, there were several cases, as compared to today’s times, where police officers were involved in cases of bribery, harassment, false arrest, etc., where poor people were subjected to misery.
Talking about the current scenario, one can see a great deal of improvement in the system. Anyone can take accountable action against the abuse of power by the police as per the establishment of Police Complaint Authority, Human Rights Commission and with the help of media and NGOs. Thus, we can say that poor people are now much more protected from obstruction of justice.
- Nilabati Behra v. State of Orissa & Ors. [(1993(2) SCC 746]
- Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006  SCC 1).