Disturbing Trend of Police Brutality in India: A Play between Power and Class?

Akanksha Mukherjee and Ragini Chakraborty
KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

The Police are entrusted with the fundamental duty of safeguarding the lives and property of mankind, protecting the oppressed and respecting the law of the land to guarantee equality, liberty and justice.[1]However, the police system has a tainted image for abusing the discretionary powers conferred upon them. There is much hue and cry regarding the “Black-Lives-Matter” movement in the West, yet the prevailing police atrocities are overlooked in India. There are not only one or two isolated anomalous incidences of police brutality but has now become a growing pattern in India. It is a flagrant violation of the right to life and personal liberties of persons[2] in police custody that go unnoticed due to the abuse of the unbridled powers conferred on the police. In recent times there have been growing concerns, nationally and internationally, to secure human rights of every human being including those in police custody. The police endowed with public duty to enforce the law and protect the people; hence, such power vested must be coupled with public accountability. Instead, the police are abusing these powers to oppress, intimidate, and torture[3] the weak[4]. In fact, these increasing instances of unjustified police atrocities have instilled fear in the minds of the public and evoke feelings of distrust towards the law enforcing agencies and the criminal justice system.

This paper aims to emphasize the magnitude of the disturbing scenario of police brutality in India and the increasing trend of lawlessness in law enforcement agencies. These paper further analyses the reasons behind the trend of police brutality and the failure in the legal framework, as well as probe into how and why the police are manifested as an apparatus to suppress dissent together with the oppressed classes of the society.

[1]John J. Broderick, Police in a Time of Change89 (2nd Ed. 1987) (1977).

[2] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 3.

[3] United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT), art.1.

[4]Md. Mohibul Haque, Police Atrocities in India 10 The Third Concept 33 (March 1996).