Confession in police remand
Khandaker Farzana Rahman
Remand and confession are most important phenomena in our police activities. In most of the cases this power of police has been questioned as persons apprehended on suspicion that they have committed crime or may indulge themselves in future in the commission of crime are being tortured by police in remand. However, police may arrest anybody without warrant on the basis of reasonable suspicion of committing an offence under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Such person must be produced before the Magistrate within 24 hours from the arrest. In the police custody, the person is treated with brutality which is completely contrary to article 31 of our constitution. It provides that every person has the right to enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law, and this is the inalienable right of every citizen, wherever he may be and of every other person in Bangladesh for the time being …
According to the annual report of Odhikar, 238 people were killed at the hand of law enforcers in 2004. Now-a-days, custodial violence is very common in Bangladesh.
Section 167(2) of Cr.P.C. prescribes that detention can be ordered in such custody for a term not exceeding 15 days. So the Magistrate has unrestricted power to make such order. Again the code itself mentions that the Session Judge can allow remand if it appears likely that further evidence may be obtained by a remand.
Theoretically, the police custody is believed to be a safe area. But the real picture of our country indicates the persons in custody of police were compelled to embrace physical torture.
Section 24 of the Evidence Act states that a confession made by any accused is irrelevant in criminal proceedings if it appears to the court as has been caused by an inducement, threat or promise having reference to the charge against the accused person, proceeding from a person in authority and sufficient, in the opinion of the court, to give the accused person grounds which would appear to him reasonable for supposing that by making it he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature in reference to the proceedings against him. Thus, the Evidence Act does not permit the use of any inducement, influence, and force in making a person confess. Apart from the Act, Cr.P.C. has provided a stringent impediment against involuntary confession. The Magistrate recording statement or confession under section 164 in course of investigation before the commencement of inquiry and trial will ensure that no person accused shall be subjected to torture or cruel or inhuman treatment. The confession by the accused must be made voluntarily and willingly. Such confession must not be made whilst he is in the custody of police officer unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate. But if there is a great doubt on the voluntary character of the confession, the confession is clearly unable to be admissible in evidence.
Abuse of power under section 54 and 167 by the police and Magistrate has been elaborately discussed by the High Court Division in BLAST vs Bangladesh 55DLR 363. In this case the Court has given 15 directives to the government and suggested that interrogation may be made while the accused is in jail custody, if interrogation is at all necessary, but not in police custody and no torture or inhuman treatment is allowed during this period.
In a democratic state, the confession in police remand is placed within the purview of sense of humanity. So the laws in Bangladesh should be reformed in compliance with the need of time for securing the investigation in the police remand. However the following initiatives would be adopted:
The person arrested will be made aware of the right to have someone informed of his arrest as soon as he is put under arrest or detention.
The person arrested should at his request be medically examined by a trained doctor.
The person arrested may be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation though not throughout the interrogation.
The human rights organisations should arrange more discussion, workshops, seminars to focus the issue in a meaningful way for the purpose of creating awareness among grassroots level people.
Finally, stopping illegal arrest and inhuman treatment in the police remand was a matter of time only if the government wished. However the government has a legal obligation and wide scope to implement such directives given by HCD. More than three years have passed since the judgment was pronounced by the High Court, but the government implemented none of the directives given in the judgment. So it is mandatory for the government to secure justice for an arrested person aiming at restoring and maintaining a safe police custody curbing illegality and inhumanity.
The writer is studying in LL.B (Honours) 4th year University of Dhaka.