Is torture endemic to Indian Policing System? What are the mechanisms available to tackle the torture cases?

It is too judgmental to suggest that torture is endemic to Indian policing and there is still an overwhelming majority of IPS and other police officers in the country who abhor torture and have faith in human dignity.

But this does not brush aside the findings of Common Cause’s survey on the Status of Policing in India which is said to have affirmed that police force in India finds nothing wrong with beating up criminals to extract a confession.

Current Mechanisms to Handle the Torture Cases

India has instruments in place to take immediate action in torture cases which include:

  • Any custodial or other cases of death in police custody is enquired into by a magistrate and in some cases, a judicial enquiry is also be ordered.
  • Criminal cases under substantive sections can also be instituted against the accused policemen.
  • Complaints against policemen have been filed in courts, which have taken severe action in such cases.
  • Installation of CCTV cameras covering hawalat rooms in police stations has been made mandatory.
  • The National Human Rights Commission acts as the watchdog of human rights.

But these measures have not yielded much impact and the torture cases continue.

Way Forward

The state must take responsibility to fix the instruments for tackling torture to ensure that they deliver justice to the victims of human rights abuse. Undertaking the police reforms in true sense by implementing the Supreme Court’s directive on setting up a Police Complaints Authority in every state of India and ratifying UN Convention against Torture could fill in these gaps.


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