In recent times, India has witnessed an increased spike in police brutality cases and there is no accountability from the police for the same. Before looking at the procedure to handle harassment let's discuss what police harassment is.
Police harassment in India is any form of mistreatment or abuse by police officers, including verbal or physical abuse, unlawful detention, bribery, sexual harassment, and other forms of intimidation. It is a serious issue and is often linked to corruption. Examples of police harassment in India include unlawful arrests and searches, arbitrary fines, and intimidation of victims or witnesses. Additionally, police officers have been known to use excessive force, particularly against vulnerable populations such as women, children, and minorities.
What should be avoided?
- No matter what, never engage in a fight with a police officer, even though you think they are wrong. Just remain calm, polite, and humble throughout everything.
- If you are not a lawyer, do not argue about laws with police personnel.
Actions to be taken
- If a victim needs to go to a Police Station to file a complaint against a police officer, it is always advisable to take a lawyer with you.
- Police misconduct complaints should be submitted to the city commissioner's office if the victim wishes to file one against a police officer.
- Whenever a police officer fails to file a formal complaint, the victim may send the substance of the complaint, in writing and by postal service, to the Superintendent of Police. As soon as the officer is convinced that this information indicates the commission of a crime such as murder, theft, or robbery, he can either investigate the case personally or appoint any police officer under his command to do so.
- After filing the complaint with the Superintendent of Police, if the victim's complaint is not resolved in his favor, he can go to the nearest Magistrate and file his complaint. Following that, the magistrate will order that the police register the FIR.
- According to Section 29 of the Indian Police Act, of 1861 that every police officer must use his best endeavors to prevent the commission of offenses and public nuisances, and to detect and bring offenders to justice. Section 29 of the Indian Police Act of 1861 does not specify any particular punishment for violating its provisions. Instead, it outlines the duties and responsibilities of the police in maintaining public peace and order. If a police officer fails to discharge his duties as outlined in the section, he may be subject to disciplinary action, like reprimand or suspension, by his seniors.
- Always go to the police station with a lawyer if you are summoned by a police officer.
- It is even possible for a victim to complain to the Jurisdictional DCP, whenever a police officer has been impolite to them.
What is the Police Complaint Authority (PCA)?
Established in the year 2006, the Police Complaint Authority (PCA) is a government agency or organization that is responsible for receiving, investigating, and resolving complaints against police officers for misconduct or abuse of statutory powers. It came into action after the judgment in the case of Union of India vs Prakash Hinduja, when the Supreme Court gave directions for a structural reformation of the Indian Police, keeping in mind increased police brutality and lack of accountability. The direction was to establish complaint authorities at all levels of the department. Given recent incidents, the goal of the Police Complaint Authority is to promote accountability and transparency within law enforcement and to ensure that police officers are held to high standards of professionalism and ethics.
The specific responsibilities and powers of the Police Complaint Authority can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally, they are responsible for receiving and investigating complaints from members of the public, as well as from other law enforcement agencies. They may also have the authority to make recommendations for disciplinary action and to conduct investigations into incidents of police misconduct.
The establishment of a PCA is considered an important step in promoting accountability and transparency within law enforcement and in building trust between the police and the community they serve.
Any victim of police brutality can register a complaint to this authority for serious misconduct done by police personnel either:
- Through himself or herself
- Through the National or State Human Rights Commission
- Any other police personnel
- Other Sources
When we speak of Serious Misconduct, it means any death of a person in police custody, grievous hurt as per Section 320 of the Indian Penal Code 180, rape or attempt to rape, arrest or detention outside the course of law, extortion, unlawful hold over land or property or any other incident that involves grievous abuse of the statutory powers.
Filing Complaint at PCA
The steps for filing a complaint with a Police Complaint Authority (PCA) typically involve the following:
- Gather information and evidence: Before filing a complaint, gather as much information and evidence as possible, including the names and badge numbers of the officers involved, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation.
- Contact the PCA: You can typically file a complaint with the Police Complaint Authority by visiting their office in person, calling their hotline, or filling out an online form in the prescribed format and it shall contain a name, contact details, and address.
- Provide details: When you file your complaint, be sure to provide a detailed description of the incident, including the date, time, and location, as well as a description of the behavior that you believe constituted misconduct.
- Submit supporting evidence: Submit any supporting evidence you have gathered, such as photographs, video footage, witness statements, or other documentation.
- Wait for a response: After you have submitted your complaint, the PCA will typically acknowledge receipt and begin an investigation. You may be asked to provide additional information or testimony as part of the investigation.
- Follow-up: If you have not received a response within a reasonable amount of time, you can follow up with the PCA to inquire about the status of your complaint.
It is important to note that the specific steps and requirements for filing a complaint with a PCA may vary depending on the jurisdiction. If you have any questions or concerns, it is best to contact the PCA directly for more information.
Along with the form, one can even attach additional documents to make their complaint stronger:
- Any picture proving the happening of the incident; or
- Any picture of the injuries or damage incurred;
- Any medical report or any certificate is given or issued by any doctor proving the nature of injuries if any inflicted upon; or
- Any evidence of station diary.
As popularly said, no one is above the law and all citizens are equal under the law. People should never underestimate the importance of knowing the laws and the remedies that are available to them whenever they face atrocities like these. They should also always consult a criminal defense lawyer whenever they face such situations.