The Legal Tail Analyzing Custodial Violence in Jai Bhim
The film industry has always been a helping hand regarding the pictorial presentation of some real incidents. The virtual vision always leaves a person’s mind in a state of clear images instead of imagination—the impact on the human mind’s last longer when they can see something rather than reading. Looking into the present scenario, the inclination of the filmmakers is more towards the depiction of real incidents with the idea of conveying knowledgeable and quality content to the general public. In the same row comes out a fantastic example of one of the most famous movies nowadays named “JAI BHIM”. Most of the Indian population has already watched and appreciated it. The movie is about the “Custodial Death” and “Police Torture”. Not every one of us is from legal background or a person who knows the law.
The movie, in a true sense, revolves around the law itself. Almost every scene of the film has a legal touch, and every scene holds some legal value backing with the legal provisions contained in the CRPC, IPC, and Constitution etc. The authors, through this article, do not want to share the story as it is quite understood that watching a movie is more fun than reading the story about it. The main motive behind writing this article is to attempt to discuss the legal provisions’ of every possible scene and, of course, to spread legal awareness.
“Custodial death" is one of the worst crimes in a civilized society governed by the Rule of Law. Does a citizen shed off his fundamental right to life the moment a policeman arrests him? Can the right to life of a citizen be put in abeyance on his arrest? The answer, indeed, has to be an emphatic "No” – Supreme Court in (D K Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997).
Detailed analysis of the legal provisions attracted thereby:
1. Article 14 & 17:- In an initial scene whereby the main character of the movie (Rajakanna) sat behind a person connected to a sarpanch who did not allow him to keep his hand on his shoulder, attracts the first legal provision, i.e. Article 14, which talks about “Right to Equality” and Article 17 which states about the “Abolition of Untouchability” of the Indian Constitution.
2. Section 46 of CrPC & Sec 166 of IPC: - Next comes in the row is the arrest of women (wife of rajakanna) at night. Section 46(4) of the CrPC clearly states two things, firstly, the arrest of women after sunset and before sunrise is strictly prohibited; secondly, the women should be arrested by a women police officer only, and prior permission of Judicial Magistrate First Class is mandatory in the case when an arrest is to be made at night. Non-Compliance of the above provisions is an offence punishable under section 166 of IPC.
3. Section 329 of IPC & Article 20(3) & 21 of Indian Constitution: - Next is the scene whereby the police officers were seen brutally beating the prisoner’s to extort confession that they have committed theft; this again is an offence under section 329 of IPC and also a violation of Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, which provides “Right against Self-Incrimination”. This act of police officer is a violation of “Article 21” of the Indian Constitution as it is held in the case “Kishore Singh v/s State of Rajasthan, AIR 1981 SC 625” that third-degree torture by police is a violation of “Article 21”.
4. Section 57& 167 of Crpc, Article 22(2) & Sec 342 of IPC: - Next scene is not prima facie visible but the production of accused in front of the Magistrate within 24 hours of arrest is a mandatory procedure which is to be followed by the police officers as per section 57 & 167 of Crpc and Article 22(2) of Indian Constitution. These provisions are also violated as none of the prisoners was produced before the Magistrate within 24 hours. And if the police keep a person in his custody without the court's orders, then it is again an offence of “wrongful confinement”, which is punishable under section 342 of IPC.
5. Section 354 of IPC states, “Outrage the modesty of women”, which is an offence against women and has been committed by the Police officer when he is shown to remove the lower cloth (petticoat) of women (playing the role of raja’s sister) inside the lockup.
6. Section 302 & 201of IPC: - The most common and known section 302 of IPC, which provides punishment for murder, is attracted as the movie's main character, i.e. Rajakanna dies due to the inhuman, barbaric & brutal beatings of the Police Officer. Further, the dead body is thrown by the police officers themselves to hide the body, which is again an offence under section 201 of IPC, which provides punishment for “causing disappearance of evidence etc.”.
7. Section 176 of Crpc: - Section 176 of CrPC is also attracted in this scenario, as it states that when a person is found dead in police custody, then it is a duty upon Magistrate or the court to inquire in addition to inquiry or investigation held by police. But prima facie, no inquiry has been conducted by the Magistrate.
8. Section 54 of CrPC: - This section provides that when any person is arrested, he shall (mandatorily) be examined by a medical officer, and a report is to be prepared by such medical officer mentioning therein any injuries or marks of violence upon the person arrested with the approximate time when such injuries have been inflicted.
9. Article 226 of Indian Constitution & Sec 97 of CrPC: - The whole movie revolves around this provision which provides the power of the High Court to issue writs. When a person is in illegal detention or custody of someone, then for the release of such person from the custody of that person or authority (it can be police as well), one can approach the respective High Court under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution for issuance of a writ of “Habeas Corpus” which means “to produce the body”. Further, the person can also approach to Judicial Magistrate First Class or District Magistrate or Sub-divisional Magistrate under section 97 of CrPC for the search of persons wrongfully confined.
10. Section 482 & 474 of CrPC: - Usually examination in chief & cross-examination of witnesses is seen in lower & session courts. High Court only deals with the question of fact & law involved in a case and not with the trial. But in the movie, it is seen that witnesses were examined- in-chief as well as in cross-examination in High Court. Section 482, which provides for “inherent powers of High Court”, states that “to prevent abuse of power & end of justice High Court” may pass any order. Thus, by using the same section, a trial in High Court was conducted. Further, section 474 of CrPC provides that trials in High Court are to be conducted the same as the procedure followed by Session Courts.
11. Section 193 & 195A of IPC: - Fake witnesses were also produced by the Police officers during the examination before the High Court, which is an offence of Giving False Evidence, punishable under section 193 of IPC. Also, Section 195A of IPC is attracted as it provides the punishment for threatening a witness to give false evidence.
12. Section 167 of IPC: - The police officer is a public servant under section 21 of IPC, prepared false document in a manner which he knows or believes to be incorrect, intending thereby to cause or knowing it to be likely cause injury to any person. Hence, this section paves the way.
13. Section 201of IPC: - The police officer was shown to assist the chief police officer (who has murdered rajakanna) in hiding the victim's dead body. Hence, this section would best fit to punish the police officer who has assisted in hiding the dead body.
SOME EYE-OPENING FACTS
1. Custodial death is still prevailing in India, and the report of NCRB of the year 2020 states that the total number of custodial death was 119.
2. Section 25 & 26 Evidence Act states that the confession made to a police officer or in police custody is not admissible in the court of law.
3. In a recent incidence of 19 June 2020, a father and his son named P.Jayraj and J. Benickes became the victim of custodial death, even after the strict laws and legal awareness.
4. The Supreme Court has also shown concern by issuing the Detailed Guidelines regarding the arrest of an accused person in D K Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997).