Handcuffing, A Judicial Tap, and the Long Arm of the Law

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Handcuffing, A Judicial Tap, and the Long Arm of the Law

For Prelims

  • Suprit Ishwar Divate vs The State of Karnataka: High Court held that an accused, in normal circumstances, need not be handcuffed on arrest.
  • Handcuffs can only be used under exceptional circumstances such as the possibility of escape and/or the possibility of causing harm to himself or others.
  • Further, if handcuffs are used, the arresting officer must write the reasons, are subjected to judicial/court scrutiny.
  • There are only three occasions when a person can be (legally) handcuffed, i.e., an accused on his arrest and before he is produced before the magistrate; an under-trial prisoner during transit from jail to the court and back; and a convict being transported from jail to the court and back.
  • Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration: ‘the only circumstance which validates incapacitation by irons — an extreme measure — is that otherwise there is no other reasonable way of preventing his escape’.


  • Irrespective of whether the person to be handcuffed is an accused or an under-trial prisoner or a convict, the principles governing handcuffing remain the same.
  • However, a person under the judicial custody of the court, requires the court’s permission for handcuffing except under emergent circumstances.
  • It has been established that monetary compensation for an ‘established infringement of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution is a remedy available in public law, which is based on the strict liability for contravention of the guaranteed basic and indefeasible rights of the citizens.’
  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report (Ministry of Home Affairs) on ‘Crime in India- 2020’ shows that 810 cases of prisoner escape from police custody (against 931) were reported in the year 2020.
  • No less than 117 cases were registered against negligent police officers as well.


          Source The Hindu

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