Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Custodial Death And Violence

 Custodial Death And Violence


The correlation of a topic on an established parameter that quantifies it in non-arbitrary terms is required in such cases, when the topic itself is unclear and ambiguous. Specifically, the measure of a person's right to life and liberty is derived from the 19th century English Concept of Rule of Law, which fluctuates in its application.

In order to have a complete knowledge of the Rule of Law in relation to custodial death/violence, it is necessary to first grasp the fundamental concepts of the theory.

The concept of Rule of Law originates with the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom. Sir Edward Coke, who served as Chief Justice during James I's reign, was the one who first proposed the principle, which stated that the King should be considered a subject of the law and should be considered below the law. Prof. AV Dicey, in his work, The Law of the Constitution, mentions three postulates of the theory of the rule of law, which he attributes to Professor AV Dicey.

Supremacy of Law/Absence of Arbitrary Power: It is the law that should be supreme, and no man should be punished unless he has committed a specific violation of the law that has been proven in an ordinary legal manner, in an ordinary court of law, and that has been proven in an ordinary legal manner, in an ordinary court of law.

 A situation in which a person is treated equally before the law, irrespective of his or her socio-political status This is the foundation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

Individual Liberty/Predominance of Legal Spirit: This is a situation in which the liberty of an individual is of supreme importance and in which the same must be incorporated into the legal spirit of the country. Unlike a written constitution, Dicey believes that individual liberty is more safeguarded in an unwritten constitution than it is in a written constitution.

At first glance, it looks that AV Dicey was attempting to assert an individual's right to life and liberty in all instances, regardless of the circumstances. After having gained an understanding of the context, we will proceed to examine the rule of law and its implications in cases of custodial death or violence.

[ii] There is no mention of custodial death or violence elsewhere in the constitution. Nonetheless, in a wide sense, the phrase "custodial death" refers to the unnatural death of a prisoner while in the custody of law enforcement[iii]. It is used to describe situations in which a prisoner is being tried or has been convicted and is serving a sentence when he or she passes away.

Custodial death is generally regarded as unwanted in a democratic society, and this is widely held. It has a tendency to perforate beyond the established bounds of separation of powers and to obstruct the progress of natural justice in its pursuit. Furthermore, documented occurrences of custodial death constitute a stain on the reputation of the rule of law. The following are the reasons why.

The supremacy of law and the lack of arbitrary power are established by the first premise of the rule of law. It envisions a regulation that specifies that a person should not be penalised unless they have committed a criminal offence. Furthermore, such a sentence is only to be inflicted by a regular court of law in this country.


This premise is violated by the basic notion of custodial death/violence (see below). The majority of deaths in jail occur in the context of ongoing trials, as opposed to those whose offence has not yet been proven. As a result, the question of whether or not they broke the law comes later in the process.


When guilty convicts die in imprisonment, their offence has already been condemned, and their death in custody is, to put it mildly, a farce. Furthermore, when a person dies in custody, he or she has basically been administered a punishment by an institution that does not have the authority to do so in this situation. According to the rule of law, only the courts have the authority to sentence a person to death, and law enforcement officers abusing their authority to do so is a flagrant violation of this fundamental principle.

In the landmark case of Olmstead versus United States the Supreme Court of the United States associated the police with the state and stated that if the state (by custodial violence) itself becomes a law breaker, it fosters contempt for the law and anarchy. The police have enormous power and responsibility in a civil society, and as a result, they must exercise this power and responsibility with considerable prudence.

Egality before the law is the subject of the second postulate of the rule of law. Theoretical thinking appears to diverge from reality in this instance. Figures have repeatedly demonstrated that the weaker and marginalised sections of society bear the brunt of custodial abuse to the greatest extent possible. The richer section of society quickly resorts to judicial means to protect their lives, whereas the poor, downtrodden, and ignorant, who lack the resources to approach higher authorities for the protection of their liberty, are frequently subjected to the music of custodial violence in order to survive.


Rather than following established processes, they are taken into custody and no record of their detention is kept in the books. Then, once they have died as a result of the torture, the police stage the death to appear as if it was a suicide.

According to the Supreme Court, in the case of Raghubir Singh vs State of Haryana, the situation is so dire that the court expressed great anguish and concern over the fact that those who are supposed to protect the rule of law are increasingly becoming the most egregious violators of fundamental human rights. Individual liberty and the primacy of the legal spirit are discussed in the third postulate of the rule of law, which states that the liberty of an individual should be given the highest priority. What one must understand is that being detained in itself is an attack on the liberty of the individual involved. The due process of law is used as a justification for this attack on his or her liberty in this instance. However, when this due process is not followed, such as when a prisoner is subjected to custodial assault, this fundamental principle of the rule of law is broken, as is the case in this case. Furthermore, when a person dies while in detention, it is not only his or her liberty that has been revoked. If he is the sole breadwinner in his family (which is the case in the vast majority of cases), the liberty and dignity of the entire family are jeopardized. As a result, the protection of an individual's liberty is given such high priority.


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