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Current Affairs


Date : Dec 25, 2021

Description :

Based on a News Article published in the ‘The Hindu’ on 22nd  December 2021 on Page Number 4


Useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains (GS Paper II)



  • Despite constitutional safeguards, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has stated that police stations constitute the greatest threat to human rights and dignity, as custody torture, violence, and police atrocities continue to exist.
  • He was addressing during the introduction of a legal service mobile application as well as the National Legal Services Authority's (NALSA) legal services vision and purpose statement.


About the National Legal Services Authority:


  • It was established in November 1995 under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987, which established a nationwide uniform network for delivering free and competent legal services to the poorer parts of society.
  • The Authority's Patron-in-Chief is the Chief Justice of India, and the Authority's Executive Chairman is the second most senior judge on the Supreme Court of India.
  • Article 39 A of the Constitution guarantees free legal assistance to the impoverished and weaker members of society in order to achieve justice on an equitable footing.
  • The State is obligated under Article 14 and Article 22 (1) to maintain equality before the law.
  • It should be highlighted that NALSA and its networks play an important role in attaining SDG-16, which aims to foster peaceful and inclusive communities for sustainable development, ensure universal access to justice, and construct effective, responsible, and inclusive institutions at all levels.


Points to Remember:


  • It expresses NALSA's aim of promoting an inclusive legal system and ensuring fair and meaningful justice for the marginalised and disadvantaged.
  • It also advances NALSA's purpose of legally empowering society's vulnerable and excluded groups by providing competent legal counsel, legal literacy, and awareness to close the gap between legally available benefits and entitled recipients.
  • App for Legal Services on the Go:
  • It includes elements such as legal aid, legal counsel, and other complaints.
  • Additional capabilities available to both Legal Aid recipients and Legal Services Authorities include application monitoring and clarification requests.
  • Beneficiaries can also use the app to apply for pre-institution mediation. Victims can also use the app to file a Victim Compensation application.


Data on Custodial Violence:


  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), just 26 police officers were convicted of custodial violence between 2001 and 2018, despite the fact that 1,727 such killings were registered in India.
  • Only 4.3 percent of the 70 deaths in 2018 were linked to injuries sustained while in police custody as a result of physical abuse.
  • Except in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha, no police officer has been found guilty of such killings across India.
  • Between 2000 and 2018, more than 2,000 human rights violations cases against the police were reported, in addition to custodial deaths. In those cases, just 344 cops were found guilty.


Reasons for concern:


  • Lack of Adequate Legal Representation: Arrested or detained individuals suffer greatly from a lack of effective legal representation at police stations. For the accused, the early hours of arrest or incarceration often determine the outcome of the case.
  • Long Judicial Processes: Courts use lengthy, expensive formal processes to discourage the poor and weak.
  • Absence of Strong Legislation: India lacks an anti-torture law and has yet to criminalise incarceration abuse, while accountability for complicit officials remains a mirage.
  • Institutional Challenges: Because the jail system is inherently opaque, openness is limited.
  • India has also failed to implement the much-needed prison reforms, and prisons continue to suffer from terrible conditions, overcrowding, severe manpower shortages, and limited protection from danger.
  • Excessive Force: The use of excessive force, including torture, to target marginalised communities and control persons who are involved in movements or promoting ideals that the state considers to be incompatible with its power.
  • Not Adhering to International Standards: Despite signing the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1997, India has yet to ratify the treaty.
  • While signing merely signifies a country's will to fulfil the treaty's responsibilities, ratification includes enacting laws and processes to carry out those duties.


Provisions of the Constitution and the Law:


  • Protection against torture is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian constitution (Right to Life).
  • Article 22(1) of the Indian constitution recognises the right to counsel as a basic right.
  • In 2009, Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was amended to include safeguards under 41A, 41B, 41C, and 41D, ensuring that arrests and detentions for interrogation have reasonable grounds and procedures, that arrests are made transparent to family, friends, and the public, and that legal representation is available.


Next Steps:


  • Dissemination of awareness about the constitutional right to legal assistance and the availability of free legal aid services is vital to keep police abuses in control.
  • Every police station/prison now has display boards and outside hoardings, which is a start in the right direction.
  • If India is to maintain its status as a rule-of-law nation, the court must close the gap in access to justice between the wealthy and the poor.
  • In India, access to justice is more than a pipe dream. To make it a realistic reality, the judiciary must collaborate with other branches of government.


Tags : rule-of-law, police reforms

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