//SC guidelines on custody torture

SC guidelines on custody torture

Police Violence:  CBI, Human Rights Commission to investigate complaints

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 6: The Supreme Court has called for empowering the Human Rights Commission or the CBI to investigate complaints against police personnel of custodial violence. In a set of six guidelines, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justices B N Srikrishna and R V Raveendran said that ‘‘An independent investigating agency, preferably the respective human rights commissions or the CBI’’ should be given ‘‘adequate powers’’ to investigate such cases and ‘‘take stern action followed by prosecution wherever necessary’’.

The apex bench also said that police training should be re-oriented, to bring in a change in the mindset and attitude of police personnel in regard to investigations, so that they would recognise and respect human rights and adopt thorough and scientific investigation methods.

The bench has also called for a ‘‘continuous’’ monitoring of lower-level police officers by their superiors so that they adhere to ‘‘lawful standard methods of investigation’’. It said ‘‘simple and fool-proof procedures’’ should be introduced for the ‘‘prompt registration of First Information Reports’’ (FIRs) and has called for the introduction of ‘‘modern methods of record maintenance’’, like computerisation and video recording, to prevent ‘‘manipulations’’ of FIRs, post-mortem reports, witness-statements and other records and data.

The apex court also directed that the requirements settled earlier in the D K Basu case should be ensured in all cases of arrest and detention. In the Basu case, the Supreme Court had forbidden midnight arrests (except in rarest of the rare cases) and, in the event of an arrest, had made it mandatory to inform a close relative of the person arrested as well as to allow the arrested the assistance of a lawyer. It had also said that the arrested should be produced before the nearest magistrate at the earliest.

The instant case came vide a writ petition from one Sube Singh of Haryana alleging ‘‘illegal detention, custodial torture and harassment to family members’’. In the instant case, however, the court came to the conclusion that there was no ‘‘clear or incontrovertible evidence about custodial torture’’ and pointed out that a CBI inquiry had already been ordered. The court also said that its judgment ‘‘will not come in the way of any civil court awarding compensation’’ to the complainant in future.

Notice issued over 38-yr custody case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today took suo motu cognizance of 70-year-old Jagjivan Ram Yadav, languishing in Faizabad jail in Uttar Pradesh for about 38 years now, and issued notices to the state government and the registrar general of the Allahabad High Court. A division bench of Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal and Justice C K Thakker issued the notices on the basis of newspaper reports that Yadav, arrested in 1968 for allegedly killing his neighbour’s wife, could not even be granted bail as the police could not trace the records relating to the case. The apex bench said that the matter was serious and asked state officials to reply on the status of the case.

R.VENKATARAMAN, Indian Express, Tuesday, February 07, 2006 at 0143 hours IST