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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Launch of HELP HOTLINE and Information on Rights related to police complaints, arrests and legal aid for Indian citizens

Do You Know Your Rights?

The rise of violence against Christians in India has led to the formation of a legal aid agency and the establishment of a help hotline both to monitor and provide assistance in the event of an attack against Christian Indians.

According to the World Watch Monitor, Christians in India formed the United Christian Forum for Human Rights on January 19. The forum’s spokesperson, John Dayal, said that its purpose is “to coordinate both legal and advocacy assistance to the community, which has been traumatised in recent months by communal violence in several states.”

The statement gives further details on the agency’s hotline and its purpose: “The UCF has commissioned a 24-hour National Helpline, 1-800-208-4545, so that lawyers and experts can assist victims of violence, intimidation, coercion and illegal confinement by any criminal or political group.”
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FIRST INFORMATION REPORT

Anybody can lodge a FIR. You do not need to be a witness to the crime to be eligible to lodge an FIR. If you have come to know about the crime, that would suffice.
• It is illegal for the police officer to deny lodging an FIR. If such a situation occurs, send a copy of your complaint to the Commissioner/ Superintendent of Police by registered post or AD.
• The FIR must be taken down in writing, read over and explained to you before you sign it.

• You can lodge an FIR at any police station convenient to you. The police officer must ensure that it is sent to the appropriate police station nearest to the place of crime.
• Always ask for a copy of the FIR for your personal records. You have the right to a copy of the same free of cost.
• You may also give information of a crime by telephone, to an officer in charge of a police station. In such cases, the police will ascertain your personal details (such as name, age, address and phone no) for their records.

SEARCH
Two independent witnesses (panchas) should always be present when you or your premises are searched.
• An accurate list of articles seized must be prepared and given to you immediately.

LEGAL AID
• If you are poor /female/ SC/ST, you have the fundamental right to a competent lawyer at the state expense from the court
• Your lawyer can remain present during the interrogation by the police
• You have the right to meet your lawyer while in custody

ARREST
• Police personnel carrying out the arrest and handling the interrogation should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations.
• You must be told of the reasons for arrest, your right to bail and also of your right to a lawyer of your choice.
• At the time of the arrest, the police officer shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness, who may either be a member of the family or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. It must also be countersigned by you and shall contain the time and date of arrest.
• One friend or relative or other person known to you or having interest in your welfare must be informed, as soon as practicable, that you has been arrested and are being detained at the particular place, unless the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is himself such a friend or a relative of the arrestee.
• A police control room should be provided at all district and State headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of all arrestees shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and the police control room it should be displayed on a conspicuous notice board.

MEDICAL EXAMINATION
Request a medical examination immediately after arrest. The doctor must examine you and record all injuries, both major and minor in the “inspection memo”
• The inspection memo must be signed by you and the arresting officer. Sign only an accurately filled out memo and ask for one copy of the inspection memo
• You should be medically examined every 48 hours while in police custody.
• Make an application for medical treatment in case of unstable health conditions.

PRODUCTION IN COURT
• You must be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24
• You can be sent ot police custody only for the first 15 days from the date of production before the magistrate. After that you must be sent to judicial custody.
• You have the right to get legible copies of the FIR, remand application, chargesheet against you and the police must provide these to you free of cost.
• Torture is illegal, if you are tortured by the police or jail officials or anyone else while in custody, complaint to the judge at the earliest opportunity and show any injury marks on your body if possible.
• If a confession is taken after torture, inform the judge immediately and retract the statement made to the police
• If you are in police custody, request that you be sent to judicial custody.
• Copies of all the documents including the memo of arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the Jurisdictional Magistrate for his record.

BAIL
• If arrested in a bailable offence you are entitled to bail as a matter of right. Ask the police to release you on bail immediately.
• If arrested in a non bailable offence, you will have to apply to the court for bail.
• The following documents will be needed for or on grant of bail : Ration card, electricity bill, telephone bill, rent receipts, voters ID, PAN card, etc
• If the bail amount is too high, apply for reduction of bail.
• You have the right to get bail if you are in custody and
• The charge sheet is not filed within 60 days of the date of production before the Magistrate for the first time in cases where the offense is punishable with imprisonment of less than 10 years.
• The charge sheet is not filed in 90 days of date of production before the Magistrate for the first time in cases where the offense is punishable with imprisonment of more than 10 years.

WOMEN
• No arrests after sunset and before sunrise
• A woman constable must be present when you are arrested.
• You can be physically searched by another woman only.
• Medical examination can be done only in the supervision of a woman doctor
• A woman arrestee should be detained only in a woman’s lock up
• Every woman prisoner must be examined once a month by the doctor while in prison
• A woman or minor girl witness cannot be called to the police station, but can be interrogated at her residence

CHILDREN AND JUVENILES
• In case of persons under 18 years of age on the date of the offence, age can be verified by documents or medical examination
• No remand or lock up, but must be sent to juvenile homes
• All investigations to be completed within 4 months of the complaint. FIR and enquiry before the JJ board must be disposed of in 6 months. No imprisonment or death sentence can be awarded to a juvenile.
• The media cannot disclose the identity of the juvenile.

-Prepared by the “Alliance Defending Freedom” an Offshoot of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.