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In Custody

In Custody
Law, Impunity and Prisoner Abuse in South Asia

First Edition

August 2013 | 502 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd

In Custody examines the professed and actual commitment to custodial justice on the part of six South Asian countries. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have all been affected by the geopolitics of colonialism. Nineteenth century Europe is often simplistically seen as the ideological source of the rights discourse in South Asia. But, like any ideological theme, the discourse on rights is also a negotiated space. Resistance created a need to justify imperialism by importing a purpose to it. Regulation of policing was the coloniser's superior norm, and also, his tool of control.

The erstwhile colonies inherited the practice of affirming norms while systems enabled their breach. Which is not to say that the purpose of norms is merely hypocritical; political struggles and intellectual discourse have, over the years, ensured the recognition of human rights in international instruments, national charters and even in the very pretexts for their breach. Though human rights are inalienable, the modern state has been uniformly guarded in its response to their imperatives. This book traces the historical and contemporary nature of the conflict between the norm and its practice. Constitutions, statutes and mechanisms of justice are reviewed with case studies and interviews that illustrate the many layers of impunity.

Torture as as Public Secret...Introduction  
The International Regime on Torture  
India's Public Secret  
Rights Discourse: Rhetoric and Reality  
The Constitution and Custodial Rights  
The Penal Code and the Law of Evidence  
Due Process: CrPC, Police Acts and Prison Manuals  
State of Custodial Justice  
Judicial Trends  
Perspectives on Torture  
Six Case Studies  
Pakistan's Regimes  
Subverting Due Process: The Force of Religion and the Force of Necessity  
The Judiciary  
International and Statutory Commitments  
Correcting the Custodians  
Martial Law and Other Regimes: 1971-2010  
International Commitments and Domestic Legal Frameworks  
Court Directives and Recommendations of Judicial Commissions  
Case Studies  
History and Politics  
The Constitution and Emergency Legislation  
Criminal Law and Custodial Justice  
International Law: Obligations and Compliance  
Enforced Disappearances  
An Overview  
The 1990 Constitution  
Accountability under the Interim Constitution  
The Army  
Nepal's Legal Framework  
The Torture Compensation Act, 1996  
The Courts and Custodial Justice  
Five Case Studies  
Two Interviews with Law Enforcers  
The Land and the People  
The Afghan Nation State and the Great Game  
1920-1978: Challenges to Constitutionalism  
Human Rights and the Soviet Occupation (1978-1992)  
Terror and Counter Terror  
Afghanistan's Human Rights Norms  
Criminal Justice and the State of Human Rights  
The book is a mesh of subtle interactions between the lived, the legal and the theoretical aspects around custodial violence. And it succeeds in striking a balance between the three. It is an ideal entry level book for lay persons and at the same time caters equally to research scholars, students and lawyers looking for material for further research on practice....Readers will be benefited from extremely relevant information...the book serves as a very sound and engaging tool in the campaign against custodial violence.
The Book Review, Vol 37, October 2013

[The book] highlights the practice of custodial torture in South Asia and the urgency to engage with it-through the system and through society.... Ramakrishna’s book brings within its compass the entirety of complex dynamics related to the practice of custodial torture, tracing the past and present day nature of the conflict between the norm and its practice, not just in India but also the five nations surrounding it.
The Hindu

The book is an ambitious exercise...performed extraordinarily well with the help of researchers.... [A] timely reminder to strengthen our legal system so as to eschew impunity provisions that come in the way of ensuring justice.

Frontline, 13 December 2013

Commitment to humane treatment of suspects in custody by six South Asian nations — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan — forms the topic of this book by eminent lawyer and activist Nitya Ramakrishnan…. The six case studies make for an agonizing read…. This book is a call, an alarm, a plea for doing something concrete to end this brutal system of interrogation.

The Tribune, 9 May, 2016

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ISBN: 9788132109464