You may never be arrested, intimidated, or threatened by the police, but if you are, here’s what you you need to know:
- Make sure that the person in front of you is really a policeman. His/her name and buckle number must be visible on the uniform. Sure, some police personnel do go without uniform, like those in the CID or Crime Branch, but it is very unlikely that they will ever approach you unless you are involved in some big crime.
2) You can be arrested or detained without an arrest warrant, if the police have reasonable grounds to do so. If you resist arrest, the police can physically harm you.
3) In India, not everyone who is arrested need be hand-cuffed. It depends on how dangerous the police think you are. This is a subjective judgement on the part of the police and you can do nothing about it if they choose to hand-cuff you.
4) If arrested or detained, you can be kept at the police station for only 24 hours, and they must take you to a police station, nowhere else. If the police want to extend your custody, the magistrate has to permit it. The magistrate can give permission to hold you for 15 days, but not more than 60 days in total. If you are not been charged by then, the police have to let you go.
5) You need not speak to the police, or confess anything, without a lawyer present. But you need to identify yourself, and provide your address.
6) If you cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to have one appointed for you.
7) Even if the police make you confess, they cannot use your confession in court. In developed countries they can. An offender’s confession is valid if done in front of a police officer, but not in India, for obvious reasons. The offender has to confess in front of a magistrate for the confession to be valid.
8) If you are a woman, only a woman police officer can arrest you. And after dark, a woman can refuse to go to a police station.
9) The police cannot legally search your house without a search warrant. But remember, they can always get one in a few hours, so if you have nothing to hide, and they are searching for something specific, there is no harm in letting them conduct a search. If you do not, the police might think you have something to hide. However, they need a valid reason to do so, and if you feel they do not, and it is pure harassment, then it is your right to refuse.
10) If looking for an offender, the police can freely search any premises, even break down doors. They do not need permission.
If you are facing trouble from the police, take help. For starters, Sandeep’s website, gives you guidelines and information on how to handle these issues.
Related Reading: Common Myths about Indian Law