From 'Bully Boys' to 'Willing Servants': Police, the Third Degree, and Indian Courts: 1861-1961
67 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 5, 2018
This paper examines the development of India's statutory and constitutional rules to forestall improper police practices designed to compel self-incrimination. Focusing on the period between 1861-1961, it describes how the judiciary consistently limited the potential of this legal framework to police the police. This was due to the choice of interpreting the rules as a means to ensure reliability of evidence, rather than as safeguards for defendants against police abuses. These widely-held judicial attitudes in colonial courts influenced the interpretation of independent India's constitutional ban against compelled self-incrimination as well. This paper attempts to explain why the Supreme Court chose to adopt a restrictive view of that protection, contesting its legal sufficiency but suggesting that, perhaps, that choice was forced upon a nascent Court which had to pick its battles.
Keywords: Police, Criminal Procedure, Confessions, Self-Incrimination, Colonial Courts, Colonial Continuities
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