Report No. 113
2.3. Observations of the Supreme Court.-
The observations made by the Supreme Court in its judgment stress the need for adopting a different approach where an incident involves an allegation against the police. These observations have a direct relevance to the law of evidence. The Supreme Court was anxious that the handmaids of law and order do not use their position for oppressing innocent citizens who look to them for protection. The court noted with regret that police officers, "bound by the ties of a kind of brotherhood", often prefer to remain silent in such a situation, and "when they choose to speak, they often put their own gloss upon the facts and often pervert the truth".
The Court emphasised the extremely peculiar character of a situation where a police officer alone, and none else, can give evidence regarding the circumstances in which a person in police custody comes to receive injuries. This situation naturally results in paucity of evidence and probable escape of the guilty persons. It was for this reason that the Supreme Court called for a re-examination of the law of burden of proof. The Supreme Court was anxious that police officers who commit atrocities on persons in the custody of the police do not escape punishment for want of evidence. The following observations occur towards the end of the Supreme Court judgment:-
'Before we close, we would like to impress upon the Government the need to amend the law appropriately so that policemen who commit atrocities on persons who are in their custody are not allowed to escape by reason of paucity or absence of evidence. Police officers alone, and non else, can give evidence as regards the circumstances in which a person in their custody comes to receive injuries while in their custody. Bound by the ties of a kind of brotherhood, they often prefer to remain silent in such situation and when they choose to speak, they put their own gloss upon facts and upon the truth. The result is that persons on whom atrocities are perpetrated by the "police in the sanctum sanctorum of the police station, are left without any evidence to prove who the offenders are.
The law as to the burden of proof in such cases may be re-examined by the legislature so that handmaids of law and order do not use their authority and opportunities for oppressing the innocent citizens who look to them for protection. It is ironical that in the instant case, a person who complained against a policeman, for bribery, was done to death by that policeman, his two companions and his superior officer, the Station House Officer. The vigilant Magistrate, Shri R.C. Nigam, deserves a word of praise for dutifully recording the dying declaration of the victim which has come to constitute the sheet anchor of the case of the prosecution."