SC warns police on torture and custodial deaths

The Apex Court in its ruling on 29 March has warned police across the country that it would not tolerate torture or custodial violence in any form in police stations. A bench comprising of Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said, “Policemen must learn how to behave as public servants in a democratic country and not as oppressors of the people.”

The Supreme Court has warned cops that violence of any kind in custody will not be tolerated even as it found its hands “tied” at not being able to convict guilty policemen of Annamalai Nagar police station in Tamil Nadu for custodial death. Copy of the order would also be sent to home secretaries and directors general of police of all states and Union territories. And thereafter the order will be circulated to all police officials upto the level of station house officials. The order came on an appeal filed by the four policemen, who illegally confined one Nandagopal in Annamalai Nagar PS on suspicion of theft. “After picking him up on 30 May, 1992, the cops kept him in custody for five days where he was beaten to death. The cops also allegedly gangraped his wife Padmini,” the court was told.

The bench observed, “We are surprised the accused were not charged under Section 302 IPC (murder) and instead the lower courts treated the death as suicide. They should have been charged under that provision and awarded death sentence, as murder by police in custody in our opinion comes in the category of rarest of rare cases deserving death sentence.”

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2011 on page no. 11

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