Monday, October 17, 2011

A leisurely stroll to the nearest thana?

At a recent meeting, retired Justice Hosbet Suresh explained Section 151 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure). Essentially, you could be hauled off to the nearest police station if a cop thinks you are going to commit an offense, and you could be kept there for 24 hours.

A lot can happen in 24 hours. You could be forced to perform acts that leave you scarred for life, but which we cannot prove in a court of law. Or you could be obviously broken but the fractures and bruises may be explained away as an ‘accident’ — slipping in the bathroom, for instance.

Now, what is one to do about slippery bathrooms? What should we say to a woman who was seriously injured immediately after being handed over to the Chhattisgarh police? Apparently, Soni Sori, accused of being a Maoist, has managed to hurt herself while in custody — she slipped and fell, it is being claimed — after she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police.

Her family — including her father and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi — has been hurt and hounded and the whole business has already been reported in the national press. Soni had appealed to the judiciary in Delhi, saying she fears for her life. Now what does one say to the honourable judges who saw fit to hand her over to the Chhattisgarh police?

And what does one say about octogenarians getting manhandled? Activist Kavita Srivastava’s 87-year-old father was pushed around when the Rajasthan police came calling while helping the Chhattisgarh police find Soni Sori. If Mr Srivastava was hurt, I suppose we’d have slippery bathrooms to blame.

(...) You might be set free and then arrested again. The poet Varahara Rao was arrested about 15 times. Arun Ferreira, who spent four years in jail as an undertrial, was acquitted but the police re-arrested him before he could even meet his family.

Read full piece here

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