THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The recent death of Raj Kumar, a financier in Peermade in Idukki district in police custody, has thrown up disturbing questions regarding the manner in which arrests and detention norms are being blatantly violated by Kerala police across the state.
As per the apex court guidelines the names of all persons taken into custody should be displayed on the notice boards of police stations, arrested person must be made aware of his rights immediately after his arrest or detention, given an opportunity for seeking legal assistance and contact relatives and medical condition of those taken into custody should be given due consideration. But these norms are being violated with impunity.
While on the one hand the government talks about janmaithri police and people-friendly policing, the custodial torture deaths tell a different story. Like in the previous instances, this time also the police was in a denial mode.
They insisted that Raj Kumar's death was due to pneumonia, a claim that has been proved wrong by the post-mortem examination report which clearly pointed to torture.
There is a clear pattern in custodial torture incidents in the state as far as violation of detention and arrest norms in each case is concerned. The SC norms which were later incorporated in the amendment to Section 41 of CrPC, are seen as powerful deterrent against custodial torture cases.
Last year State Police Chief Loknath Behera had instructed police officers to strictly adhere to Supreme Court guidelines on arrests. He directed officers to ensure the medical condition of arrested persons is checked without fail. Besides, he wanted the officers to take the circulars issued by police headquarters on such matters down to middle and lower rungs of the department.
At the high-level meeting held last year a section of officers had also suggested stringent disciplinary action including instant dismissal from service to send a strong message against custodial torture. But the suggestion for summary dismissal was shot down by the top brass who favoured action like keeping rogue cops to be kept off from sensitive posts and also subjected to correctional methods.
Behera talks tough
Meanwhile, State police chief Lokanath Behera has said that officials found guilty in the Peerumedu custodial death case will not be spared.
He told reporters here on Thursday that police would be specifically examine whether there are any lapses from the side of the police officials in the case. The police will also go ahead with prosecution procedures if necessary.
Crime branch ADGP has been directed to submit the preliminary report within 15 days on the custodial death, said Mr Behera.