Complaints and petitions have been filed in abundance against incidents of police harassment. Police force is responsible for maintaining law and order in the society and to ensure safety of the public as well as protection of their integrity. The Preamble of India clearly portrays that no one is above the law. Hence, the police officials cannot exert undue influence or abuse their powers to harass citizens under the garb of carrying out an investigation.

Some of the laws and remedies that every citizen must be aware of are listed below:

  • The courts have specifically issued guidelines stating that a police officer cannot harass citizens during investigation and has to note down minutes of the investigation in the station diary or the daily diary.
  • If a person is being summoned by the reason of being named in a complaint or identified as a witness, a written summon under Section 160 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is required by the police officer, specifying the date and time for appearing.
  • Preliminary inquiry can only be conducted if the information does not reveal a cognizable offence and to the extent of finding about cognizability of a crime only. If a cognizable offence is revealed in the information, the police has to register an FIR and cannot stall the process under the guise of preliminary inquiry.
  • If a police officer refuses to file an FIR, the informant can submit the information in writing to the Superintendent of Police. The informant or the victim can also register his/her complaint with the Magistrate.
  • Section 29 of the Indian Police Act, 1861 states that if a person is at the receiving end of misbehaviour due to omission of duty by a police officer, the officer can be punished with imprisonment upto 3 months and penalty upto 3 months’ salary.
  • Police Complaint Authority (PCA) was set up in 2006 to handle police complaints and reform the structure and manner of functioning of the police system. If a case of ‘serious misconduct’ is made out, the police officer can be held liable. A complaint with PCA can be filed by anyone who has witnessed police misconduct.
  • There are two documents that you must know about in case of police arrest; inspection memo and memo of arrest. Inspection memo is important because it states how you look liked before being locked up and if you had any injuries before being locked up or not, so that you are not injured during investigation. Memo of arrest has detailed information of the arrest with signatures from witnesses, so that there are no stories told from the side of the police.
  • It is always advisable that a lawyer should accompany you whenever you go to the police station for filing a complaint against a police officer.

Sometimes, police officers exceed their limits and inflict harm upon the citizens to the extent of injuring them. We must be aware of our rights and responsibilities to be able to protect ourselves and people around us from cases of police brutality or police harassment.

The article has been authored by Jaya Mitra