PRINCIPLES OF POLICE INTERROGATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERNED

By – Neha Ladhani

Principles of police interrogation and Human Rights is one of the most controversial yet important issue to balance the freedom and liberty of people with the duties endowed upon them on one hand and privileges and obligations of police during interrogation on the other. To have a deeper understanding of it, let’s have a look at the history of human rights.

ORIGIN OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights are the rights that are inherent to all human beings. These rights were not present in the form we see them today. The origin of Human Rights can be traced back to 539 BC when the troops of Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon but Cyrus freed them and declared that everyone had the right to choose their religion and thus, established equality. These and other such principles were recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder(baked-clay), which served as an inspiration for the first four provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Another important event that marked the origin of human rights was the promulgation of Magna Charta in 1215 as a raw concept of “Rule of Law”. It was defined as the rights and liberties of all the people and protection from arbitrary detention and incarceration.

As history has inspired us for practicing the very basics of humanity we have adopted it in the form of law, be it national or international. Moreover, specific provisions talk about the practice a police officer should follow while performing his duty. But before that let us understand the meaning of this concept.

MEANING

Human Rights as the word itself suggests are the rights that are bestowed upon humans only. These rights are inherent in nature and provide basic protection to all humans. These rights are given utmost importance by the UN after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights are present to all humans may they be of any caste, community, color, race, or accused, or suspect. The ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) also provides for the presumption of innocence of the accused until proven guilty under Article 14(2).

Police interrogation can be considered as any formal questioning session of the suspect or witnesses. Let us understand the term “Police” first. As per the meaning provided in the Cambridge dictionary “the official organization that is responsible for protecting people and property, making people obey the law, finding out about and solving crime, and contacting people who have committed the crime[1]”. Police being part of the executive pillar of democracy are given the duty to maintain law and order in the society and if there is any breach of such law and order then investigate the same and follow the due process to make the person who infringes the law is punished. Therefore, the post of the Police Officer is considered to be very respectful as they are the protectors of law. They protect the citizens from any adverse condition be it natural or man-made. But, what if the police officer himself violates the human rights of some person? It has been observed that during interrogation the suspect or the accused is sometimes deprived of his basic human rights to get a confession or any such information. There are various ways in which police officers obtain information or confession. They are discussed below:

TECHNIQUES OF POLICE INTERROGATION

The commonly known techniques of occupying the confession in India are either torturing the accused to confession or intimidating him to sign the confession. But, police use various other techniques while interrogating to take the confession of truth out of the person who is being interrogated.

MISINFORMING:

It is applied when the accused or the arrested person denies any claims put against him. So, the police officer changes the information a little by describing males as female or any other condition incorrectly to take the truth out of such a person.

FOOLING OFF:

Here, the police officer convinces the accused or the arrested person that he should not be blamed for what happened as it was not his fault and if he aids the police in finding the truth there are chances of him getting acquitted.

FRIENDLY CONVERSATION:

The police officer starts the conversation in a very casual and friendly manner which makes the accused or arrested person comfortable and thus, in some cases the accused states the truth.

SEPARATE INTERROGATION OF FAMILY MEMBERS:

Here, the members of the family are interrogated separately and so are misinformed in a way that the other member of their family has accepted the guilt or asserted the truth to make them assert the facts.

THREATENING:

This is the most commonly practiced method where the arrested person is threatened and bullied to the extent that he speaks out the truth or ultimately accepts the truth. But, the confession obtained in this way is not of any use as many times arrested person accepts the guilt to get save from the torture.

COMPLIMENTING OR ENCOURAGING:

The police officer while interrogating the arrested person by complimenting him or by encouraging him to speak the truth in this way he/she feels motivated to speak the truth.

These are few techniques that are utilized by the officials while interrogation, however, any confession made to the police officer is not acceptable in the court of law.

Taking this into consideration there have been made certain provisions in the statutes and there are certain provisions mentioned in the international agreement too which guarantee the suspects, accused, under-trials, and everyone their basic human rights.

CONNECTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLICE INTERROGATION

International Commitments

The international community has signed several treaties, conventions, and agreements to protect human rights. These rights have been given utmost importance as they are very basic in nature and inherent to all human beings. By signing or ratifying such agreements the state nations agree to take the responsibility of protecting such rights. Thus, India being one such state has undertaken such responsibility. Let’s, we look into the agreements from the point of Police interrogation.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal declaration of human rights or UDHR was adopted by all the member states of the UN. This was adopted with the view to equally protect all the people. The related articles are as follows:

Article 3: Every person has the right to life, liberty, and security.

Article 5: No person should be subjected to torture, inhuman, degrading, or cruel treatment.

Article 9: Protection against arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:

The General assembly of the United Nations in the light of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Under this convention, a declaration has been made to prevent torture or any other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The states have been obliged to prohibit the practice of torture or any other cruel, inhuman practice within their jurisdiction. Moreover, this convention provides for the training of public officials concerning the same. Thus, protecting the people against torture. If such torture is committed by any public official the convention also provides for compensation or any other such remedy.

Indian Constitution and Human Rights Protection

As it implies clear from articles 20 and 21 of the Indian Constitution that our legislators wanted to include the moral rights and laws in balance in Indian society. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides for the Right to life and personal liberty thus protecting everyone against arbitrary detention and grants a life of dignity. Article 20 on the other hand protects the arrested person from accepting the guilt or right to silence or self-incrimination.

RIGHT TO FAIR INVESTIGATION

The right to fair investigation is a natural right granted to everyone everywhere in the world. Both the parties should get equal opportunity of being heard and prove their points. This is also envisaged in articles 21 and 20 of the Indian Constitution employing their wide interpretation.

BABUBHAI v. STATE OF GUJARAT[2]

In this case, the apex court held the fair and speedy investigation is the constitutional right of the accused and hence delay in the investigation would be considered to be constitutional wrong against the accused.

RIGHT TO LIBERTY

It is the right of any person to get interrogated at home or any other place and not in the police custody until unless it is found to the satisfaction of the police that the person should be taken to police custody.

Moreover, no person should be subjected to inhuman treatment be it an accused or suspect. Torture and 3rd degree should not be used to get the confession. It is also found that the rate of custodial deaths is quite high in a civilized society. It infringes the constitutional right under article 21 and the basic human right of the individual.

DK BASU v. STATE OF WEST BENGAL[3]

It is the landmark judgment given by the Apex Court in case of the increasing number of custodial deaths in India. The court held that it is a matter of concern as being in custody does not take away the right of the accused which is granted under article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

INADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSION MADE TO POLICE

Section 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 provides for the inadmissibility of the confession made to police as it is presumed to be given under threat, by force, or under any pressure or compulsion and not voluntarily.

STATE OF UP v. DEOMAN UPADHYAY [4]

In this case, it was taken into consideration that confession made to the police officer is not admissible in the court of law.

RIGHT AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION

It is a right granted to the accused to remain silent or not to speak against themselves. In simple words, we can say that he has a right not to be a witness in his case against himself. Thus, binding the investigation agencies not to use any kind of torture or third-degree to obtain the confession. This protection is provided under Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

M.P.SHARMA v. SATISH CHANDRA[5]

In this case, it was held that the accused has the right to remain silent as is mentioned in Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution.

RIGHTS OF ACCUSED

The accused has the right to know the ground of his arrest, consult a lawyer, be presented before the magistrate within 24 hours, and inform his friends or family.

Moreover, under article 22 of the Indian Constitution, the police are obliged to provide a copy of the grounds of arrest to the accused so that he can consult a lawyer.

As mentioned above various principles have been endowed on the police officers to be followed by them while interrogating an accused, suspect, and witness.

The courts time and again have provided us with the guidelines supporting this concept, of which some are mentioned below.

LANDMARK JUDGMENTS

JOGINDER KUMAR v. STATE OF U.P[6]

In this case, it was laid down that accused has the right to inform any friend, family member, or such person who is concerned about his welfare about his arrest.

The police officer must inform the arrested person of his rights and make an entry in the diary about who has been informed about the arrest of the accused.

KATHI KALU OHGAD v. STATE OF BOMBAY[7]

An accused person cannot be said to be a witness against himself if he simply gave confession while in police custody.

MUNSHI SINGH GAUTAM v. STATE OF M.P[8]

The court focused on the fake claims by the people who claimed that police has tortured them while in the custody just for obtaining the benefit out of such claims.

CONCLUSION

Police or the investigating agency is considered to be the protector or the guardian of the human rights and the fundamental rights of the citizens. But there are various instances where it is found that these protectors turn out to be the violators of such rights. It is very saddening that how with time this noble profession has lost its essence, integrity, and professionalism. Moreover, corruption has also maligned this noble profession. There is no doubt that the duty of the police is of very high risk and great importance as they are given the responsibility of the protection may it be pandemic, droughts, floods, terror attacks, and whatnot. But there are found an increasing number of cases where the police have deprived the people of their basic human rights. Thus, there needs a change in this which will re-establish the nobility of the profession.


[1] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/police

[2]BABUBHAI v. STATE OF GUJARAT & ORS ON 26 AUGUST,2010

[3]AIR 1997 SC 610

[4] AIR 1960 SC 1125

[5] 1954 S.C.R. 1077

[6] 1994 AIR 1349

[7] AIR 1961 SC 1808

[8] MUNSHI SINGH GAUTAM &ORS VS STATE OF MP ON 16 NOVEMBER, 2004