Are the Police overpowered? Or misusing their powers?


Not only in India, in all the countries police authorities are considered as one of the most significant governmental section of the society to maintain peace and security in the society. They are the appropriate officials to help during the time of crisis and external danger in the country. Police are the courageous and respectable persons in the society as they perform with several responsibilities, roles, functions, and powers to safeguard the citizens within the country from the internal issues. There are many honorable policemen to be appreciated for their sincerity and dedication in their work. But at the same time, there are many police officers carrying out the illegal activities and misuse their powers by threatening the people in a society. These kind of police officers should be punished for their act which are illegal and stay out of their duty.

The fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence provide the fair and reasonable investigation of the accused policemen. In case of abusing the powers given to the policemen, under code of criminal procedure of 1973 aims to safeguard the rights of accused or falsely imprisoned ones but there are growing incidents of gross violations of the accused rights in prison.

Illegal acts of the policemen:

Investigating the case and arrest the offenders of the crime in their legal capacity are the legal functions of the police authorities. The powers of the police are defined in the chapter 12 XII in the code of criminal procedure, 1973. The Section 154 to 176 of code of Criminal Procedure contains the provisions that have to ne followed by the policemen while investigating and arresting the accused person in the custody. The primary role of the police is to maintain the sovereignty and the integrity of an individual in the society, but the policemen are abusing their provisions and performing the illegal activities for their personal gain. This kind of activities are termed as police misconduct and lead to the obstruction of justice. The powers given to the police officers must be used only for the welfare of the society as the main reason for the powers given to them is to fulfil their legal responsibility towards the citizens of the country. Activities such as fake encounters, false arrests, or illegal arrests, tampering or destroying the evidence, and custodial deaths should be strictly illegalized.

Activities followed by some unlawful police:

Illegal arrest and detention:

Police officials sometimes make illegal arrest and detention for their personal grudges, arresting by political influence for the personal gains and retaliation for complaints of police abuse. In the case of D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal decided in 1997, which includes producing the arrested person before the magistrate in 24 hours of the arrest. The individual’s vulnerable individuals and poorer sections of society are more likely to be the victims of the illegal activities of police officers. These activities are assisted by the political side. Sometimes, the police officers are restricted to arrest the underage individuals who are below 18 years and in case of arresting, they must be sent to the juvenile homes. But in some cases, due to political influence, they fail to provide the special protection to the minor individuals. This is because, the word “arrest” is not defined in the code of criminal procedure but the section 46 of criminal procedure act defines the word “arrest how made” which define that the police have all the rights to take the custody and produce him before nearest magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. But due to some personal gains, police officers take illegal means by depriving his/her liberty.

Extra judicial killings:

Fake encounters are being the major problems in India nowadays. Extrajudicial killings are generally referred to the cases where policemen kill the citizens with no judicial examination. By law, this kind of practices are called as the arbitrary killings. Arbitrary killings of human beings are considered as the highest form of violating the human rights and constitutional values. Policemen should not the use the unlawful force to fight with the criminals. These kinds of brutal killings must be prohibited as no policemen have the right too give death penalty to the accused persons. The strict laws should be enacted against these unlawful killings and an investigation team must be set up in the cases of death occurring during police actions.

Custodial deaths:

Taking custody of criminal and imposing punishments is the great ways to decrease crime rates. Custody means restricting the freedom of movement of a particular individual. But these days, deaths in police custody is alarmingly increasing but none of the policemen was accused of this action. In the democratic country like India, the custodial deaths are not acceptable at all as all the individual have right to life and liberty under the article 21 of Indian Constitution. As per the Indian constitution, article 21 gives equality before law and equal protection of the law, section 3 of article 21 gives right to life and personal liberty and right against self-incrimination. These laws are also same for the foreigners. A police officer has power to arrest and investigate a person but have no power to use any illegal means to extract the information from that person.

Illegal investigation and trial:

As per criminal jurisprudence, every citizen has the rights to have free and fair mode of investigation and trial. This code provides that the policemen should conduct fair investigation with the person who was took in custody. It not only the duty of investigators but it is mandatory to ensure that investigation is fair and in accordance with the provision of code of criminal procedure.

Need for the new changes:

The duty of policemen is major concern in India. The powers given to the policemen is derived from the code of criminal procedure. It has guidelines to all the activities like arresting, searching, seizing. The powers given are absolute and these are often misused by some of the policemen for the personal gains. The legal requirements to initiate criminal proceedings against the police officer is very complex and leave the atrocities unaccounted in India. National crime records bureau reported that 25 cases of 89 incidents were registered in the charge sheet against the policemen for violating the laws. Till 2005, there is no independent agencies to ensure the conviction of accused policemen against the complains of a common man but in 2006 the supreme court formulated an independent body to investigate the misconduct of the policemen. The independent body is names as Police complaint Authority to deal with these activities. There are number of cases argued on behalf of center and it is duty to protect the law and order of the state and at the same time, center is not responsible for the actions taken by the state government.

To curb the offences committed by the policemen while discharging their public duty, a serious discourage is in need. Some amendments must be made to the provisions of code of criminal procedure and the police act of 1867 ensures the accountability and responsibility of the policemen towards citizens. There should be necessary actions introduces to dispose the case and convict the accused as soon as possible with the proper investigation and provide strict punishment for the offenders of human rights.


There should be a proper enaction of new provisions that specifically deal with the issue of atrocities of policemen that cause death in the custody.

The 3Ps should be enacted to fight with offences. The 3P refers to the prosecute, prevent, and protect. Prosecution means to take actions to eliminate the crime. And give suitable punishments to such criminals for violation of human rights.

Principle of vicarious liability must be enacted as a direct result for the commission of the crimes of deaths in custody. The policemen should be the responsible one for the failures on their part to prevent death of an accused in lockup.

Policemen action in protests:

There are many unsolved problems raised before but there are no necessary solutions for many problems. So, the citizens protest publicly these problems to seek redressal for their problems especially the young citizens like students. The students are the future citizens as well as the upcoming generation and they are the ones who need to be protected. But the policemen in order to stop the protest, directly take the law into hands and start attacking the protestors. Many protestors are injured heavily and none of the actions are taken against them. Even the women protestors are brutally attacked by the male policemen which is a violation against the law. This kind actions should be prohibited.

Landmark cases:

  • K. Basu v. State of West Bengal decided on 1997
  • Sunil Batra v. delhi Administration decided on 1979
  • Khatri v. state of Bihar decided on 1980
  • Prakash Singh v. Union of India decided on 2006


There should be strict rules and regulations to stop these practices in India. There are no specific laws in Indian constitution to deal with the offences committed by the policemen. The supreme court took this matter very seriously and raised the concern in most of the cases of misconduct by police and recommended certain guidelines in number of cases of custodial violence but the legislation did not take any actions about it. At the same time, illegal actions of the police are increasing alarmingly. There are many responsible policemen in our country, and they should be an inspiration to others. If all the policemen follow their work sincerely, the crime rates will be automatically reduced.

Author: SriKanth R,
2nd semester | BBA LLB | IFIM Law school, Bangalore

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