There have been several reports of police misbehaviour and human rights violations in India, where the issue of police brutality has persisted. Police brutality not only impacts the victims and their families, but it also erodes public confidence in the legal system and law enforcement. A method of impartial investigation must be in place to successfully handle this issue.
An impartial, open, and independent inquiry is conducted outside of the police force. It is carried out by an impartial body, like an inspector general or an impartial commission, to ascertain the facts of a situation and hold law enforcement personnel responsible for their deeds.
There are various restrictions and flaws in India’s present system for looking into police abuse. For instance, police officers frequently have their colleagues look into their cases, which might create a conflict of interest. Additionally, the current system lacks accountability and transparency, which makes it challenging for the public to have faith in the investigation’s findings.
These restrictions highlight the urgent need for independent research in India. The public’s trust in the criminal justice system can be restored by conducting an independent investigation, which can offer a more objective and practical solution to the problem of police brutality. It can guarantee that police are held responsible for their acts and that those who have been the victims of police brutality are given justice.
To eliminate police brutality and promote accountability in the criminal justice system, this essay will investigate the need for an independent inquiry in India, explore the benefits and best practices of independent investigation, and make a case for the establishment of such a system.
BACKGROUND ON POLICE BRUTALITY IN INDIA
Since many years ago, India has struggled with the serious problem of police brutality, with countless reports of the use of excessive force and other forms of power abuse by law enforcement. Police officers that use excessive or unjustified force on individuals frequently cause them physical harm, serious injury, or even death. This is known as police brutality. Police brutality is a widespread problem in India that affects people from all social classes and is not restricted to any one area or group.
The growing use of social media and other types of technology in recent years has contributed to raising awareness of the problem of police brutality in India. Videos of police officers using excessive force, abusing their authority, and committing violent and corrupt activities are becoming frequent, which has sparked considerable public indignation. However, despite the recent attention that this topic has gotten, police brutality remains a serious issue in India, where many civilians are regularly subjected to a needless and disproportionate force at the hands of law enforcement personnel.
Due to a lack of accountability and transparency, it is challenging to compile statistics on police brutality in India, although it is commonly known that the problem is pervasive and that many incidents go unreported. It is even more critical that action be made to solve this issue because the lack of an effective system for holding police officers responsible for their acts has only served to reinforce the cycle of violence and abuse.
THE CURRENT SYSTEM OF INVESTIGATING POLICE BRUTALITY IN INDIA
India’s present system for looking into police abuse is seriously broken and insufficient. Most typically, internal police departments conduct investigations into instances of police brutality, which frequently leads to conflicts of interest and a lack of objectivity. It is also challenging for the public to hold the Indian police force responsible because of its reputation as an opaque and secretive system. The efficiency of the current system is further weakened by this lack of transparency.
A lack of accountability and independence further hinders the current system. Investigations involving police brutality frequently suffer from bureaucratic delays and are affected by political factors. Due to a culture of impunity that results, even in the face of proof of misconduct, police officers are rarely held accountable for their acts. The impression that police officers can behave without repercussions has been fostered by the absence of serious penalties for police brutality, furthering the abusive cycle.
Additionally, the present investigational method is frequently inefficient and slow. Many reports of police violence are ignored, and those that are investigated can take years to conclude. This not only erodes public confidence in the legal system, but it also fails to provide victims with the justice they are due.
THE NEED FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
It is impossible to stress the need of conducting an impartial investigation to address police violence in India. Despite having a strong legal framework in place, India’s system for looking into police misconduct has various restrictions and shortfalls, which makes it challenging to hold officers accountable for their acts. As a result, there is a rising public need for unbiased, transparent, and accountable independent investigations.
Investigation into claims of police wrongdoing by a body unaffiliated with the police or the government is referred to as an independent investigation. Because it offers a means of ensuring that instances of wrongdoing are adequately investigated and those involved are held accountable, this kind of investigation is crucial in combating police brutality. The investigation will be impartial and fair because of the investigating entity’s independence from other parties.
Independent investigation provides various advantages over the existing system. It ensures that cases of wrongdoing are thoroughly examined and increases transparency in the investigative process. Additionally, the community can have more faith in the impartiality of the inquiry, which fosters trust between the police and the community. Furthermore, since it avoids the need for protracted litigation and appeals, independent investigation can offer a more effective and efficient way to hold authorities accountable for their deeds. Independent investigation must adhere to specific standards to be effective. This entails having a precise and objective mission, the power to gather and examine the evidence, and the capability to suggest sanctions and/or legal action. A crucial part of ensuring that independent investigation is carried out in a way that satisfies these requirements is played by the government and civic society.
BEST PRACTICES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
For the investigative process to be credible, unbiased, and transparent, best practices for independent investigation are essential. The goal of an independent investigation is to give a more accurate account of what happened while also increasing public confidence in law enforcement. Best practices that can be used in independent inquiries concerning police violence include the ones listed below:
- Impartiality: The investigators must be independent, unbiased, and unaffected by any outside forces. They shouldn’t have any prior ties to the investigating officers or the other parties in the case.
- Transparency: Public updates on the inquiry process should be given regularly. Regular updates on the investigation’s status and the dissemination of pertinent material to the public can be included in this.
- Evidence-based: The inquiry should be supported by evidence, including witness testimony, tangible objects, and any additional pertinent data. The investigators must be equipped with the tools and knowledge required to conduct a complete investigation.
- Inclusiveness: All pertinent parties, including the victims, witnesses, and community representatives, should be included in the investigation. This may contribute to increasing the investigation’s credibility and fostering a sense of confidence.
- Timeliness: The inquiry should be completed on schedule and with a definite completion date in mind. By doing this, the investigation is kept moving forward and the public is kept up to date on its status.
- Final report: A final report that is made public should be the result of the investigation. The report needs to have a succinct conclusion and suggestions for further action.
The investigation process can be made trustworthy, unbiased, and transparent with the help of these best practices for an independent investigation. By putting these best practices into action, law enforcement organisations may gain the public’s trust and encourage police accountability.
Compared to the existing system, an independent investigation has a variety of benefits, including increased transparency, objectivity, and accountability. The introduction of independent investigation would significantly advance India’s police reform. The efficacy of this method has been shown through successful independent inquiry models used throughout the world. Clear criteria and guidelines must be established for an independent investigation to be successful in India. It’s important to remember that both the government and civil society may help carry out independent investigations. While civil society can play a crucial role in pushing for change and holding the government responsible, the government must ensure that its law enforcement officers are held accountable for their deeds. Finally, independent research must be conducted in India. An important step in reducing police brutality, enhancing police reform, and re-establishing trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve would be to introduce independent investigations. India needs to act now to bring forth an independent investigation. By doing this, we can fight to make society more secure, equitable, and just for everyone.
Author(s) Name: Akshar Aditya (Hidayatullah National Law University)