Deepika Nain, Law Center-1, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.
THE PRINCIPLES OF POLICE INTERROGATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights and Police Interrogation are closely linked with each other. Before understanding their relation, let us get a basic insight into the meaning of both.
Human rights are the basic rights that every person is entitled throughout life; irrespective of their place of origin, beliefs, and lifestyles. These rights are inseparable privileges given by emergence of modern civilization, although they can be sometimes restricted by the state but can never be taken away by state. These rights are based on basic values like dignity, equality, respect, independence, etc. these rights are defined by law and protected by law enforcement agencies.
The word police is not defined in any law not even in Police Act, 1881. But according to Black’s law dictionary, “police” means “The governmental department charged with the preservation of public order, the promotion of public safety, and the prevention and detection of crime.”
The concept of Police was developed in England in 1800’s by the establishment of first Municipal Force under the control of Sir Robert Peel. Before that people used to petrol the streets on weekly basis voluntarily as Police.
Relation between Police and Human Rights
In simple words police is the group of peoples who are given authority by the state so as to maintain law and order, to investigate and prevent crime. Police is the Law enforcement agency and now its Police’s duty to protect the basic rights of people. But most often it is seen that the powers are misused and overridden by the Police. The Police while interrogating accused override it’s power and violate basic civil and human rights of living human beings. So, to overcome this problem Various Principles of Police interrogation are evolved from time to time. Main motive behind these principles is that Police may be doing an authorized act but it in no way can be violative of fundamental and human rights of individuals. So, these principles are made to protect and promote basic human rights and fundamental rights of individuals which can-not be even taken away by state.
So, the accused is granted certain rights while he/she is being held by police for interrogation.
Principles of Police Interrogation
1. Basic Right to life, liberty and Security – Every person who is being under Police interrogation possess basic human right to life, security and freedom of his body. The police while interrogating in way can take away this right of life, liberty and security. This right is granted under Article 20 and 21 of Constitution of India and also under Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human rights.
2. Immunization against inhuman treatment and torture – No accused under interrogation of police be subjected any kind of torture or inhuman treatment that would deprive him of his /her basic fundamental human right as to dignity, respect and independence.
3. Right to Equality – Every accused who is under police interrogation should be granted equality before law and equal protection of law. This right is recognized by Article 14 of Constitution of India so no authority under state or state itself can take away this right from any individual under the process of interrogation before police.
4. Follow due process of law – Police while interrogating any accused is required to follow the due process of law and also not to do any kind of torture on the accused while interrogating.
So, the police are required to follow these certain kinds of principles while interrogating any accused. Also, the accused under interrogation is granted certain rights which he can avail so as to protect himself or protect his/her basic rights during interrogation and also prior to police interrogation.
Rights of accused Prior to Police Interrogation
1. Person arrested to be informed of grounds of arrest – Section 50 of Criminal Procedure Code gives the right to know the ground of arrest and right to bail to any accused. According to this section the police officer making the arrest needs to inform the person arrested as soon as possible after the arrest the grounds for arrest and the offence he is arrested for.
2. Right to have a relative of the accused be informed of his arrest – It is the Obligation of person making arrest to inform about the arrest, etc., to a nominated person. The authorized person after needs to inform about the arrest of the accused to any of his friend, family member or anyone nominated by the accused. It is the responsibility off the police officer arresting to inform the accused about this right of his.
3. Right to be informed the right to bail in bailable offences – When a person is arrested by a police officer without warrant, now it’s the duty of the police officer to inform him about his right to file for bail and arrange for sureties.
4. Right to consult a Lawyer – It is the right of the accused arrested for any criminal offence to be defended by pleader of his choice.
5. Right to legal aid – If it seems that the accused is not able to arrange for a lawyer for his defense then it’s the duty of the state to provide a lawyer to him for legal aid. This right is also recognized by Article 21 of the Constitution oof India as Right to Legal Aid.
6. Person arrested to be taken before Magistrate – The police officer if making the arrest of the accused with any arrest warrant, then the officer needs to present the accused before the magistrate within 24 hours of arrest or without making any delay. The accused does possess the right against any detention beyond 24 hours of arrest if not presented before the magistrate or the in charge of police station.
Rights with the accused during Interrogation
1. Right to meet Lawyer of Choice during Interrogation – When a person is arrested by police for interrogation, he should be allowed to meet lawyer of his/her choice during interrogation but not throughout interrogation.
2. Right against unnecessary restraint – If any person is arrested, he/she should not be subjected to unnecessary restraint than required to prevent his escape.
3. Right against self-incrimination – Article 20(3) of Constitution of India gives right to a person arrested against self-incrimination. A person can-not be compelled to be a witness against himself. This right is similar to “Right to remain Silent” where a person can–not be forced to speak. This was held in the case of M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra where the court held that, where a person is arrested on the basis of a FIR (First Information Report) and an investigation was conducted against him has the right to remain silent during such investigation.
4. Right to be medically examined – if a person is arrested, after arrest he needs to be examined by a medical officer under the service of state or central government. If medical officer is not available then by a medical practitioner immediately after the arrest as soon as possible and proper records needs to be maintained of such examination.
5. Confession not to be used as evidence in the court – If any person makes any type of confession before police, then such confession is inadmissible before the court of law. Such confession made can-not be used as an evidence against him/her in the court of law.
In the case of Babubhai v. State of Gujarat right to fair and speedy investigation was also recognized as it is granted to us as a fundamental right under article 20 and 21 of the Constitution of India and the court recognized these rights as basic human rights also. This was done so, as speedy investigation is an integral part of speedy trail. And speedy trails are needs Everywhere as “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”.
Violation of Human Rights Under Police Interrogation
As the term human rights denoted that every human being is entitled to such rights in ordinary course of life. Basic human rights include rights to food, shelter and clothes. But these days the society has advanced in each sector so does the needs of the people. In today’s era for every person dignity and right to a peaceful life with freedom are also considered as a basic human right. Various laws in the country including the supreme law that is the constitution of India works for the protection and preservation of these rights. Mainly Article 21 which is titled as Right to life Personal Liberty covers all the basic human rights that a living human is entitled to during his lifetime. And these rights can-not be taken away by anyone not even the state.
But we all are aware what kind of techniques are used during interrogation by the police on the accused. Each and every law is discouraging of these types of exercises but we are also aware of the ground reality. Police uses various types of tortures, inhuman behavior which are all derogatory to these human rights of individuals. So, first of all let’s discuss about the techniques used by police while doing interrogation in detail.
Techniques of Interrogation
1. Suggestibility – An individual’s suggestibility means how does he/she reacts on the suggestions of others. In this technique the interrogators try to increase the suggestibility of the accused with the help of certain type of drugs (GABAergic drugs mainly), sleep deprivation etc. If this technique is used while interrogation it is considered as against the human rights and in certain areas of the world as torture of extreme level. Sleep deprivation and exposure to such drugs can impact the accused’s ability to provide truth and accurate information in a negative manner.
2. Deception – Under this technique the interrogator tries to deceive the accused by telling lies after lies regarding his presence being framed by anyone else in the crime scene. With the help of lies the interrogator tries that the accused agrees to their story. An example of this can be telling the accused the co-accused has confessed about the crime and has affirmed his presence in the crime and telling the same story to the other co-accused so as to create a feeling of decisiveness by other. This type of method is not prohibited under any law of India and is frequently used by the police, making the mental pressure and harming the image and dignity of the other in the mind of the accused which is against human rights.
3. Verbal and non-verbal cues – Under this technique the interrogator tries to engage the accused in ling arguments so as to confuse him/her and play with the mind of the accused. This technique is used so as to catch the lies if any is told by the accused. It is believed that if the accused are lying, they will experience guilt and will change their statements over and over again throughout the whole interrogation.
4. Pride and Ego – Under this technique two approach are there one is pride and ego up approach and other is pride and ego down approach. Under pride and ego up approach the interrogator praises the accused with compliments and tries that the accused will tell some important information by with this way of speaking in positive way. On the contrary under pride and ego down approach the interrogator tries to humiliate and abuses the accused with foul language, certain gestures and by passing personal comments. This is done with the expectation that the accused will speak up by getting emotionally touched by such type of mean and humiliating behavior and will consider his/her pride over the truth. This technique is certainly against the human rights as to the dignity and self-respect of the accused.
5. Good cop-Bad cop – in this technique two police officers will take the role of good cop and bad cope. Now they will behave opposite in treatment with the accused, this is done so as to create an image in the mind of the accused that he can trust the good cop and can tell the truth. Again, an illusion is created in the mind of accused.
6. Mind altering drugs – This technique is seldom used but used by some officers. With the help of drugs, the accused’s position of mind is altered. This technique is illegal. Still there are certain ways like the Narcotics test which goes against the basic human right of a individual. This technique is illegal as well as it is not effective, Narcotics test can also be performed only with the authorized permission the court and under the guidance of a medical officer. Use of drugs during interrogation is in no way acceptable.
7. Torture – Torture mainly 3rd degree torture includes taking away of food, exposure to bright lights, electric shocks, keeping in secluded place for long time, physical discomfort etc. are done in order that the accused confesses or bow down before the authorities. All these acts are certainly against the dignity and counts as inhuman behavior derogatory to basic human rights of individuals.
These were the common techniques that are being used by the police during interrogation. If we see around as there are so many cases of custodial deaths in India. Recent example being the Death of son and father (Jeyaraj and Benniks) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, the circumstances of the death were so derogatory that the human conscience is shaken completely. In India the code of Criminal Procedure,1973 talks about two types of Custodies that is Police custody and Judicial Custody. Violence is prevalent in both types of custodies. In 2019 a total of 1731 people died in India. India: Annual Report on Torture 2019’ said 1,606 of the deaths happened in judicial custody and 125 in police custody. Of the 125 cases in police custody, 93 persons (74.4%) died due to alleged torture or foul play, while 24 (19.2%) died under suspicious circumstances in which the police cited suicide (16), illness (seven) and injuries (one). The reasons for the custodial death of five others (4%) were unknown, the report said.
In conclusion the data are in front of us of all the alleged cases of Tortures and deaths in Custody on the name of interrogation. So, in this situation main thing is to make people aware of their rights. Despite being so prevalent laws, Reports of various commissions like Human rights commissions, Universal deceleration of Human Rights, clear guidelines in laid down in D.K.Basu case by our honorable Supreme Court etc. nothing is followed. Still, we came across so many cases daily where basic right to be produced before the magistrate within 48 hours is not complies with without bribe in reality. So, the authorities need to take strict steps so as comply with all the laws and grant people with their basic human rights and not to go against the conscience of human beings. Authorities needs to be corruption free and individuals need to be more responsible and aware of their rights in order to ensure that no one is deprived of his basic human rights while following any process of law.
 The Black’s Law Dictionary, (9thEd. 2010).
 Section 50, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 50A, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 50, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 303, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 304, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 56, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 41D, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Section 49, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Article 20(3), Constitution of India, 1950.
 M.P. Sharma v. Satish Chandra, 1954 S.C.R. 1077.
 Section 54, The code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
 Babubhai v. State of Gujarat 1985 AIR 613, 1985 SCR (3) 614.
 The Hindu