This Article is written by Versha Singh. (3rd-year law student, pursuing B.A., LL.B (Hons.) from Amity University, Lucknow)
Interrogation is a process where a person in authority attempts a suspect to confess something. The 3rd report of the National Police Commission includes that the power of arrest was one of the chief sources of corruption in the department of police. The report of the commission also suggested that about 60% of the arrests made by the police were either unjustified or unnecessary. Hence it is fundamental for every woman to know their rights during an arrest or interrogation.
Rights under Indian Law:
- Right to Equality: Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees “equal protection of law and “equality before law”. It means that all litigants, similarly situated, irrespective of whether the person is accused or not, are entitled to same procedural rights for relief and defence. The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but it also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women under Article 15(3) of the constitution. This inherently protects the right to freedom from discrimination.
- Presumption of innocence:a person is believed to be innocent until proven guilty. This principle is known as the Presumption of Innocence. The accused has the right to take the benefit of reasonable doubt with respect to the crimes he has committed or is being accused of.
- Right against self-incrimination and the right to silence:
The right to silence is a legal principle that guarantees an individual the right to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement officers or court officials during the course of an interrogation. Clause (3) of Article 20 of the Indian Constitution also guarantees the right against self-incrimination. The ‘right to silence’ principle means that courts or tribunals of fact should not conclude that a suspect or an accused is guilty merely on the fact that he has refused to respond to questions put to him by the police or by the Court.
- Right to freedom from coercion, duress, threat, torture or harassment:The person who is arrested and has been interrogated has to be produced before the magistrate within twenty-four hours from the time of his/her arrest. The time taken in the journey is not included in this period. No arrested person can be detained longer than 24-hours. No accused can be unreasonably handcuffed or manhandled, it is only legal under certain circumstances made on reasonable grounds. Also, the escorting officer has to inform the reason for handcuffing to Judicial Officer before whom the accused is going to be produced. The detainee has the right to not be ill-treated, abused or tortured while in the custody during interrogation and investigation. Further, the detainee should not be subjected tomore restraint thanwhat is necessary to prevent his escape.Furthermore, no person can be induced or threatened or coerced to answer any question.
- Right to be informed of the charges:The investigating officer has to give a written order for calling anybody for interrogation at the police station. If the person is arrested then she should be informed of the grounds of arrest by the police. Also, the police should also inform the arrested person about all the rights that a detained person is entitled to. Hence, every person is entitled to know why he or she is being arrested or questioned. And has the right to question the validity of the arrest if the warrant is unlawful. It is the duty of the police officer to inform her relative or friend about her arrest and the place of detention.
- Right to bail:To be released on bail when arrested for a bailable offense and this right should be informed by the police officer to the person who is arrested.10 And if it is a female who is arrested for a non-bailable offence, even if the offence is very serious (punishable by death penalty even), the court can release her on bail.11
- Right to the presence of counsel during interrogation:Detainee has the right to meet and consult a lawyer of his/her choice. The arrested person has the right to consult a lawyer during the interrogation also but not throughout the interrogation period. The right has been enumerated under Sec. 41D and Sec. 303 of CrPC.
- Right to privacy:Right to privacy now has become part of fundamental rights. Females can be searched by only another female with strict regards to privacy and decency. Further, female suspects must be kept in a separate lock-up in the police station. They should not be kept where male suspects are detained Right to privacy also includes the right to protect the identity, in case of the rape victim. It is the duty of investigating officer that her identity shall not be disclosed by anyone including the media.
- Right to legal aid:Every woman has the right to free legal aid. There have been instances where when women were accompanied by a lawyer, they are held wrong or even humiliated. In such cases and even others, it is the duty of the police to immediately inform the nearest legal aid cell and help the victim to get legal aid.
- Right to virtual complaints:According to the directions given by Delhi Police, if a woman due to certain circumstances is unable to go to the police station to lodge a complaint the she can do it via a registered post or an email. It will then be the duty of the senior police officer who has received the letter to forward the complaint to the Station House Officer of the respective area where the crime has been committed for the document verification to finally lodge an FIR.
- Right to Zero FIR:Zero FIR is an FIR that can be filed in any police station irrespective of the place of incidence or jurisdiction.
The Delhi Police in the year 2013 announced that a woman can file a Zero FIR and the police will have to accept it exactly as she describes and has to be initiated on the statement made by her.
The Supreme Court in 2007 held that any police officer who refuses to lodge a complaint will be suspended and even face a jail term. A police officer who fails or refuses to lodge the complaint will be liable for a term of punishment from 6 months to 2 years of jail.
- Right to no arrest:By virtue of Rule 81, women, minors and persons of unsound mind are exempted from arrest. Section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code,1908 prohibits the arrest or detention of women in execution of a decree for money.
A general rule is that females can deny arrest if it is done before sunrise or after sunset, but in certain cases, the arrest can be made if the police have written orders from the magistrate. Such arrests happen in cases where a serious crime is committed by a female and the arrest is important to serve justice. It is necessary that women should be given separate-locks ups if they are arrested. Women can only be arrested in the presence of female constables.
- Right to not being called to the Police Station:For the purpose of interrogation, a woman cannot be called to the police station or any other place except for her own residence. In the cases of sexual assault or rape, the victims cannot be forced to come to the police station in order to give their statement. A woman can only be questioned in the presence of a female constable and not otherwise. However, if the investigating officer requires the attendance of a woman as a witness, then she cannot be called at any place other than her residence.
- Right to doctor’s assistance: The honourable Supreme Court of India held that the preservation of human life is of paramount importance. Whosoever be the patient (criminal/innocent), has the right to life and it is the duty of the person-in-charge to protect their life. The court has also held that the medical examination of the female should be made only by female medical practitioners and this has also been given under Section 53 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Prem Shankar Shukla v. Delhi Administration, 1980 SCR (3) 855.
Sec. 51, Cr. P.C
 Art. 22(1), Constitution; Sec. 50, Cr.P.C.
 Section 23 of the Bill of Rights Act
 D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416
 Art.22(1), Constitution; D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416.
Justice K.S Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India and Ors, WP (C) 494 of 2012.
Sec. 51, Cr. PC
Sec. 166A of Cr. P.C.
 Sec.81(b) of Civil Procedure Code,1908