The Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Ravindra Bhat of the Supreme Court agreed to hear the petition filed in this regard by Human Rights activist, Suhas Chakma.
The plea filed by human rights activist Suhas Chakma said that though section 176 (1A) of CrPC provides for judicial inquiry into such cases, the provision is not being implemented. The plea said Section 176(1A) of the CrPC uses the word “SHALL” and therefore it should be implemented. The Plea also states that since its enactment, the section has been left untouched and has not been implemented, leading to rising custodial crimes. The plea referred to National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) annual report which recorded death or disappearance of 1,303 persons in police custody (827 persons not remanded to police custody by court and 476 persons remanded to police custody by courts from 2005 to 2017).
- The plea said that securing judicial inquiries into death or disappearance of a person or alleged rape in custody is indeed an uphill task and an insurmountable political battle, despite the law providing for mandatory judicial inquiries into such offences.
- The NCRB’s annual report also recorded that out of the total 827 cases of “death or disappearance of persons in police custody without court remand”, judicial inquiry was ordered only in 166 cases.
- Chakma said despite mandatory requirement under Section 176(1A), judicial inquiry was not ordered in 661 cases or eight per cent of the cases.
- The plea said The death or disappearance of these defenceless citizens/persons expose the abysmal failure of the laws relating to arrest and detention, and contempt for the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal.
- Statistically the plea noted that 476 cases of “death or disappearance of persons in police custody with court remand”, judicial inquiry was ordered only in 104 cases which is 21 per cent of the total cases and in the remaining 372 cases which is 79% of the cases judicial inquiry was not ordered in clear violation of Section 176(1A) CrPC.
- Chakma telling the real motive said that it is assumed that courts will ensure the rule of law to protect the lives and liberties and therefore, production of any person arrested or detained before the courts within 24 hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate is guaranteed under Article 22 of the Constitution.
- The petition said that the poor implementation of Section 176(1A) CrPC, lack of proper investigation and seriousness into death or disappearances in police custody appears to have ended up providing impunity.
- The petition also referred to the number of cases related to custodial deaths or rapes registered by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) during 1994-1995 to 2018-2019 and said that it shows alarming increase in the number of such incidents.
- Chakma also sought direction to district or Sessions Judge of every District to file a quarterly report(s) before the Chief Justice of their respective High Court, informing the death, disappearance or rape of any person in Police or custody of the State and whether any proceedings under Section 176(1A) have been initiated in accordance with law and for immediate registration and initiation of proceedings under Section 176 (1A) of the CrPC, in all such cases where such inquiries have not been commenced /initiated by the competent Magistrate enjoying territorial jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea filed by an activist seeking the implementation of Section 176(1A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which provides for mandatory judicial inquiry in cases of custodial death and custodial rape.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje