Legal Article

Police misconduct

Shivendra Pratap Singh


High Court Lucknow


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Published on: 16 Jun, 2023

Police misconduct in India has been a long-standing concern that has garnered attention from civil society, human rights activists, and legal experts. While it is important to recognize that the majority of police officers perform their duties diligently and uphold the law, instances of misconduct do occur, and they can have serious implications on the rights and safety of individuals. Some common forms of police misconduct in India include:

  1. Custodial Torture and Deaths: One of the most alarming forms of police misconduct is custodial torture and deaths. In violation of constitutional protections, some police officers’ resort to physical and psychological abuse of individuals in their custody, leading to severe injuries or even deaths.
  2. Extrajudicial Killings: Extrajudicial killings, also known as “encounter killings,” occur when the police resort to using lethal force outside the bounds of the law. Such incidents often raise concerns about the lack of accountability and due process in the criminal justice system.
  3. Fabrication of Evidence: In some cases, police officers may plant evidence to implicate innocent individuals or strengthen their case against the accused. This form of misconduct undermines the fairness of criminal trials and can lead to wrongful convictions.
  4. Abuse of Power: Abuse of power by police officers can take various forms, such as extortion, bribery, and harassment of individuals. This abuse erodes public trust in law enforcement and reinforces a culture of impunity.
  5. Illegal Detention: Police officers have been known to detain individuals without proper legal justification, often depriving them of their right to liberty and due process.
  6. Violation of Human Rights: Police misconduct in India also includes violations of human rights, such as illegal arrests, custodial rape, and harassment of marginalized communities and vulnerable groups.
  7. Failure to Register Complaints: There have been instances where police stations refuse to register complaints, especially in cases involving marginalized communities, which further perpetuates a climate of fear and mistrust.

Measures to Address Police Misconduct:

Recognizing the seriousness of the issue, various measures have been suggested to address police misconduct in India:

  1. Police Reforms: Policymakers have stressed the need for comprehensive police reforms to improve accountability, transparency, and efficiency within the law enforcement system. These reforms may include better training, improved working conditions, and the establishment of independent oversight bodies.
  2. Sensitization and Training: Specialized training programs can sensitize police officers about human rights, ethical conduct, and the importance of upholding the rule of law.
  3. Independent Complaints Mechanisms: Setting up independent complaints mechanisms to investigate and address allegations of police misconduct can help ensure impartiality and fairness in the process.
  4. Body Cameras and Technology: The use of body-worn cameras and other technologies can provide objective evidence of police interactions, promoting transparency and accountability.
  5. Community Policing: Engaging with local communities and fostering trust between the police and the public can help create a more cooperative and supportive environment for law enforcement.
  6. Whistleblower Protection: Providing protection to whistleblowers within the police force can encourage officers to report instances of misconduct without fear of retaliation.


Addressing police misconduct in India is crucial for upholding the principles of justice, equality, and human rights. It requires a multi-faceted approach that involves legal reforms, improved training, and a commitment to accountability from within the law enforcement system. Additionally, fostering trust and collaboration between the police and the public is essential to building a safer and more just society.