Essay on Human Rights

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The Role And Responsibility of a Legal Aid Lawyer
Rights of the Accused and Exceptional Circumstances
Client Interview
Other Pretrial Matters
Theory of the Case
Various Defense Strategies
Questioning the Witness
Plea Bargaining/Guilty Plea
The Code of Criminal Procedure
The Constitution of India
The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
The Indian Penal Code, 1860
Lawyer-Client Relationship
India Country Summary Card
Rights of the Accused Around the World
Important Case Law regarding Defendants' Rights in India
eLearning Courses for Indian lawyers

India has one of the world's largest populations of pre-trial detainees with 249,796 people in overcrowded and unsanitary prisons. While in police custody, these Indian citizens are often subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, and shock treatments - all in violation of their fundamental constitutional rights. Subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, they are an example of human rights abuses on a colossal scale. Four people die in police or judicial custody every day from these abuses. Many of these deaths could be avoided if cases were swiftly resolved. However, each year more cases are filed in Indian courts than can ever be disposed of, creating a huge bottleneck in the criminal justice system. There are currently 26,752,193 pending cases in Indian courts and in some jurisdictions case loads are so high that it would take a thousand years to clear court dockets. Because of this backlog, detainees who cannot make bail are sometimes kept in pretrial detention longer than the maximum sentence they would have received if convicted. In one case, a man was held in pretrial detention for 54 years even though the maximum sentence for his crime was only 10 years. During these periods of pre-trial detention, arrestees are at the greatest risk of human rights abuses as victims have reported that the longer the period of detention, the more intense the violence against them becomes. These abuses are made worse and worse by the continuing deterioration of the Indian Police, one of the most ill-equipped police departments in the world. For every 1,037 Indian residents there is only one police officer. (Asian average: 558, global average: 333). Understaffed, under-skilled and under-resourced, the police in many Indian states work long hours under filthy labor conditions. Junior officers face intense pressure from supervisors to solve cases quickly and efficiently. As a result, bribery, brutal torture, murders, illegal arrests and other human rights abuses have become the norm, rather than the exception. Recently, India has demonstrated an increased commitment to rule of law and citizens’ legal rights. Because of police abuses during interrogation, Article 22 of the Indian Constitution was added to prevent police from detaining citizens for longer than 24 hours without a special order from a magistrate. Though domestic law grants this fundamental legal right, there remains a tremendous gulf between the actual law and its implementation. Police officers regularly detain suspects for several days, post-dating arrest documents 24-hours before producing the defendant before the magistrate. Similarly, pretrial detainees are routinely denied due process rights taken for granted in the western world: notice of charges and an opportunity to contact family or lawyers. In many cases these prisoners – poor and marginally literate – are completely unaware they have any legal rights at all, further emboldening police officers. NGOs have been successful in lobbying Indian authorities to criminalize torture, organizing public awareness campaigns on the issue of torture and aiding the rehabilitation of torture victims. However, systematic police denial, obstruction, an absence of records and a lack of accountability continues to plague the system. Despite the fact that...
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