PUCL Bulletin, December 2002
-- By V. Suresh,
General Secretary, 6.11.2002
Extending police remand
is not merely a question of granting more time for investigation; it makes
serious inroads into the liberties of the citizens. The standing law limits
the remand period to 15 days for three reasons. First, police custody
is limited in order to prevent abuses by the police, which mostly occur
in this period. As the Supreme Court has put it in the case of CBI vs
Anupam J. Kulkarni (1992),
Third, because of the lack of bail, the detention of a person under police custody amounts to short-term preventive detention, without any of the Constitutionally prescribed safeguards. Extending it to 30 days is de facto institutionalizing preventive detention in ordinary law, without any form of public or judicial accountability. The justification for increasing the period of police custody from the present 15 days to 30 days is ostensibly to provide the police sufficient time to investigate cases.
This reason is totally unconvincing. The National Police Commission and other experts have pointed out that often the reason for police inefficiency is not lack of time but political interference, corruption, use of unfair methods, compromised investigations, incompetence and other similar reasons. Instead of rectifying any of these structural and institutional issues, successive governments have taken the shortcut of arming the police with greater repressive powers. Ultimately, the police become handy weapons of ensuring control over both political opponents and critics of the ruling regime.
It is this aspect of the amendments which seriously concerns us, for it will add to the ongoing erosion of democratic institutions and destroy the rule of law. It is reported that the above amendments have been passed by the Assembly and are awaiting the Governor's assent. This situation requires all those interested in democracy and human rights to raise their voices before it is too late. PUCL appeals to all citizens, organisations and parties to send representations to the Governor and the President of India seeking their urgent intervention to ensure that this draconian law does not enter the statute books. --