Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sekhri on the Third Degree in India

Abhinav Sekhri, an advocate at the Delhi High Court (with an LLM from HLS), has posted From “Bully Boys'” to “Willing Servants”: Police, the Third Degree, and Indian Courts: 1861-1961:
This paper examines the development of India's statutory and constitutional rules to forestall improper police practices designed to compel self-incrimination. Focusing on the period between 1861 1961, it describes how the judiciary consistently limited the potential of this legal framework to police the police. This was due to the choice of interpreting the rules as a means to ensure reliability of evidence, rather than as safeguards for defendants against police abuses. These widely-held judicial attitudes in colonial courts influenced the interpretation of independent India's constitutional ban against compelled self-incrimination as well. This paper attempts to explain why the Supreme Court chose to adopt a restrictive view of that protection, contesting its legal sufficiency but suggesting that, perhaps, that choice was forced upon a nascent Court which had to pick its battles.