The brutal custodial killing of Jayaraj and his son Fenix has triggered social media protests and people have started talking about police brutality and custodial deaths all around the nation. This is the infamous tragic story of father and son, but there are many unrecorded and unknown killings in police and judicial custody. The brutal torture at Sathtankulam police station is only a reminder of the existing gap between the rule of law and the role of law.
The Third Report of the National Police Commission noted that nearly 60 % of arrests in India were either unnecessary or unjustified. The "India: Annual Report on Torture 2019" released by The National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) says that, in 2019, 1731 persons died in custody, death of about five persons daily. The National Crime Records Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India in its ‘Crime in India Reports’ from 2005 to 2018 revealed that, "concerning the death of 500 persons remanded to police custody by the court, 281 cases were registered, and 54 policemen were charge-sheeted but not a single policeman was convicted as on date." - stated by Mr. Paritosh Chakma, Director of the NCAT. 2018 Report by the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that 89 cases were registered against police personnel for Human Rights Violation, not even one was convicted. In D.K.Basu v. State of West Bengal, Justice A.N. Anand remarked "Custodial torture is a naked violation of human dignity and degradation which destroys, to a large extent, the individual personality."
Findings from "Status of Policing in India 2019" report released by NGO Common Cause and The Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) shows that 35% police personnel believe that it is natural for a mob to punish the culprit in cases of cow slaughter, 12% police personnel never receive human rights training. 3 out of 5 police officials believe that there is nothing wrong with beating up criminals and 4 out of 5 believe it is okay to bash them for the sake of a confession. Even 1 out of 5 believes that killing dangerous criminals is better than a legal trial.
The amendments can be made to the criminal justice code, the Home minister suggested. Experts suggest that a specific law that conforms to the International Standards, a specific anti-torture law must be introduced and need to be explained and detailed. But legislation is just a beginning; the Prevention of Torture Bill was introduced in 2010 but it is not adopted yet. We also need some other reforms which can act on the ground and make a difference like Madurai High court ordered to arrange professional counseling for the police personnel, the important role of the Magistrate. There is a need to speed up the Human Rights Courts, provide local legal aid authorities, Human Rights commissions, and Police Complaint Authorities to raise voice against torture. Above all, there is a need to redesign the police force to work as a protector of citizen's security and Human Rights.
Picture : indianexpress.com  http://www.uncat.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/INDIATORTURE2019.pdf  http://muslimmirror.com/eng/india-records-daily-five-deaths-in-custody-most-victims-from-muslim-dalit-and-marginalised-communities-report/  (1997) SCC 416  https://indiankanoon.org/doc/501198/