Threat to human rights is highest in police stations: Chief Justice of India NV Ramana

The chief justice said that constitutional right to legal aid and availability of free legal services was necessary to keep police excesses under check.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana speaking at an event on Sunday, August 8. Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Sunday expressed concerns at incidents of human rights violations of police stations in the country.

“The threat to human rights and bodily integrity are the highest in police stations,” Ramana said at an event of the National Legal Services Authority of India, or NALSA.

The chief justice said that custodial deaths and other forms of police atrocities were problems that still prevailed.

“Lack of effective legal representation at the police stations is a huge detriment to arrested or detained persons,” Ramana said. “Going by the recent reports even the privileged are not spared third degree treatment.”

He added that information about the constitutional right to legal aid and availability free legal services was necessary to keep police excesses under check. For a society to remain governed by the rule of law, the chief justice said, it was imperative to bridge the gap of accessibility to justice between the “highly privileged and the most vulnerable”.

Ramana’s comments on Sunday came days after the Centre told the Parliament that as many as 348 people died in police custody, while 1,189 were tortured during detention across the country in the last three years.

Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said that 136 people died in police custody in 2018, 112 in 2019 and 100 in 2020.