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This Article is written by Rohit Raj, a student currently pursuing B.A. LLB. (Hons.) from Lloyd Law College. This article basically deals with the Concept of Police harassment and the reforms needed to decrease the number of cases of Police harassment. 

Introduction

The majority of police officers are competent experts who recognize the boundaries of their specialist and are persevering in taking after the legitimate protocol in questioning citizens and respecting their rights. There are occasions, be that as it may, where an officer may damage the rights of a person either through misconception, frustration, or outright hostility and you’ll retain a lawyer.

Police harassment is an abuse of an officer’s authority by continually or arbitrarily halting somebody, forcefully questioning him or her, or by conducting an unwarranted or illegal look and seizure. The harassment is commonly an attempt to coerce someone into admitting complicity in the crime, or by threatening or intimidating an individual to obtain data. Your lawyer helping the battle against police brutality and misconduct may need to find several solid witnesses to prove rehashed civil rights violations on these instances.

Police badgering can take an assortment of forms and incorporate diverse victims. A few common illustrations of police harassment include:

  • The illegal spying or placing certain people under surveillance.
  • Racial or ethnic profiling.
  • Use of excessive force.
  • Making racist, sexist or homophobic comments.
  • Illegal detention.
  • Illegal search and seizure.

Legal or Illegal Arrest

Police have broad latitude in carrying out their work to battle crime and to ensure the safety of the citizens. Being halted by an officer isn’t a pleasure to experience, but even in case you’re innocent, police officers are not at risk for violating your respectful rights in case they are performing their duties legitimately.

For illustration, In case the officer had cause to believe you may have committed a crime, your arrest is most likely legitimate, and you will have no legitimate recourse. It will not be considered as an illegal arrest and there will be no consequence if the arresting officer sensibly accepted them to be true at the time of your arrest.

If your arrest was based on the false testimony from a known unreliable source, or it was based exclusively on your ethnicity, your lawyer may be able to demonstrate a civil rights violation. If a fellow officer has seen your illegal arrest and failed to intercede, an additional charge may be brought against that officer for failing to intervene to protect you from a constitutional violation.

Most violations are based on excessive drive. Indeed, if the officers had sound intentions when restraining you, they may not cause unwarranted serious real harm or death, such as using a taser on you while you’re cuffed and posing no danger. Whether the officers used excessive or preposterous force is based on the surrounding facts and circumstances that your lawyer will carefully investigate.

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Police Misconduct and Indian Civil rights

Police officers, for the most part, have wide-ranging powers to carry out their duties. The Constitution and other laws, however, put limits on how far police can go in trying to enforce the law. An essential reason for the nation’s civil rights laws is to protect citizens from abuses by the government, including police misconduct.

Civil rights laws allow lawyer fees and compensatory and reformatory damages as incentives for injured parties to enforce their rights.

Immunity

Being stopped and questioned by police in connection with a crime is an unsettling experience for most people.

As long as the officer is performing his work properly, however, there is no violation of a suspect’s rights. Police officers are immune from lawsuits for the performance of their jobs unless willful, unreasonable conduct is demonstrated. Simple carelessness, the failure to exercise due care, is not enough to make liability. Immunity, therefore, implies that in the typical police-suspect interaction, the suspect cannot sue the police.

Civil rights remedies come into play for wilful police conduct that violates a person’s constitutional rights.

Police Reforms

There have been numerous attempts to change the Indian police system both on a State level and on a central level. Since 1971 there have been six major reform committees:

  • Gore committee;
  • National Police Commission (NPC);
  • Ribeiro Committee on Police Reforms;
  • Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms;
  • Group of Ministers on National Security;
  • The Malimath Committee for Reforms of Criminal Justice System.

However, the reform recommendations have generally managed with the symptoms of the crisis rather than with the problems sourced from its structure and design. After independence, they felt requirements of police reforms and many states set up their police commissions. The very first state police commission was set up in 1959 in Kerala.

Most of the States had the Police Act of 1861 as a show when drafting the state acts, hence the same idea and structure are found within the State police Acts.

Gore Committee on Police Preparing 1971 – 1973

The Gore Committee on Police Training was set up to survey the training of the state police from constabulary level to IPS level. The committee made 186 suggestions, 45 of those were related to policy reforms. The recommendation that relates to the police preparation has generally been executed however the reforms relating to the structure of the police system has on the other hand been majorly overlooked.

Ribeiro Committee on Police Changes 1998

The Ribeiro Committee was set up in 1998 on the arrangement of the Preeminent Court following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on police reforms. The committee proposed five major suggestions related to state security, selection of DGP, and complaints against the police, the proposals have not been implemented.

Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms 2000

Former Union Home Secretary Shri K. Padmanabhaiah was appointed as the chairman of the Padmanabhaiah commission in 2000 by the Home Ministry of Affairs.

The commission reviewed the enrollment to the police force, training, duties, and responsibilities, police officers conduct, police investigations, prosecution, among others. The committee suggested 99 actionable suggestions, of which 54 got to be implemented by the central government, and 69 had to be implemented by the state governments.

The Group of Ministers on National Security 2000 – 2001

The Ministers on National Security essentially worked on four tasks namely:

  1. Intelligence system
  2. Inner security
  3. Border management and
  4. Management of defence.

Around 62 recommendations were made, 54 needed action taken by the central government, and 42 by the state governments.

Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System 2001 – 2003

The Malimath Committee tended to the principles of the Criminal Justice System, investigation, indictment, legal, crime, and punishment.

The report has been heavily criticized by the human rights organization for its suggestion of changing the burden of proof. The committee made 158 observations and recommendations. There are 55 major recommendations of which 42 oughts’ to be executed by the central government and 26 by the state governments.

National Police Commission (NPC) 1977 – 1981

The National Police Commission (NPC) was the primary commission to exhaustively review the Indian police system. NPC composed eight reports in four years.

The eight reports suggested all together 291 recommendations all related to police reforms. Most of the suggestions have not been implemented.

 

How to handle Police harassment in India?

In India, various ways were mentioned to handle police harassment by the Indian judiciary through the decision propounded in different cases based on police harassment. Some of the ways are mentioned below to handle such harassment by the police in India:

  • The first thing which is utmost important is to never engage in a fight with the police officer even if you know that the police officer is misbehaving with you. Be always polite, calm, and humble while dealing with any police officer.
  • If any person has to file a complaint against a Police officer and for that, he has to visit the police station for the same he should go with a lawyer so that police aren’t able to harass that person in front of the lawyer.
  • If the victim thinks to lodge a complaint against a police officer for harassment done by the Police officer then he should directly file a complaint in the commissioner’s office.
  • If in any case, the police are not lodging FIR then that person can send all the related matter information in writing or making a post to the Superintendent of Police and afterwards the Superintendent of Police himself or any subordinate to him investigate related to the FIR.
  • Also if the FIR is not lodged by the Superintendent of Police after getting all the substance then the person can visit the nearest magistrate and after that, the magistrate will order the police authorities to lodge the FIR.
  • If any person becomes the victim of police harassment due to the omission on the part of police conduct shall be booked under Section 29 of Indian Police Act, 1861 which describes the punishment for that i.e. penalty not exceeding three months or imprisonment up to 3 months either one out of both or both Penalty and imprisonment.
  • If a summon is issued against you by the police authority always go on the particular date but with a lawyer in the Police station as per the summon.
  • One last thing which a common man should avoid handling police harassment is that the common people should not indulge in arguing with a police officer on the law-related matters until and unless the man is a lawyer.

Guidelines to Circumvent Police Harassment

There are some guidelines issued by the court to the police authorities to avoid the situation of police harassment and these guidelines are only applicable to the police authorities and any violation of these guidelines by the police authorities leads to punishment under the provision of law as stated above in how to avoid police harassment. A lot of police harassment cases are seen during the time of FIR lodging and investigation. So, some guidelines issued by the court to prevent police harassment during that time to reduce the number of police harassment cases in India. Some of the guidelines are mentioned below which helps in circumventing the police harassment situation:

  • When a person is summoned for the reason of proceeding in the case for which FIR has been lodged by that person, then it is the duty of the police officer to summon that person through the written medium as mentioned under Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure particularly mentioning about the date and time on which the person has to appear before the police authorities.
  • It is compulsory for the police authorities to record the event in the Daily Dairy or also called General Diary, of the Police station regularly.
  • The Police officers are clearly instructed not to involve in any kind of harassment done to the common people during an investigation.

Conclusion

The society has experienced numerous changes economically and politically, but there have been nearly irrelevant changes within the Indian Police structure.

Steps should be taken to replace or improvise and revive the Indian Police Act which has been existing unfathomable since the British Rule. To bring around this change, new resources should be allocated rather than redistributing the old ones. The existing laws and procedures i.e., the Criminal Procedure Code, the Indian Penal Code, and the Indian Evidence Act should be re-examined and necessary amendments ought to be made.

Efforts ought to be made to free the police system from political interference and to make the police an independent body. Steps ought to be taken to build up neighbourly relations between the police and the public through meetings for discussing open problems, etc.

Also, the working conditions of the police should be improved along with giving proper training, reducing hours of work, increasing the salaries, giving housing facilities, educational facilities to the children of the police officials and conducting stress-busting and morale-boosting sessions for the police officials. It is so because they can work in a stress-free atmosphere, with no frustrations, with no worries, so that they can concentrate superior in their work and serve the society better.

This, in the long run, will bring an improvement in society and thus leading to a more peaceful society based on cooperation and understanding. Thus it is a tall time to bring in a new police system in India to ensure greater accountability, efficiency, and a citizen service-minded approach.


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