Intimidation is not investigation

The Bombay High Court’s disapproval of the use of late-night interrogation as an ‘investigation’ tactic used quite regularly by the likes of Enforcement Directorate is welcome. While underlining that depriving a person of sleep is violative of basic human rights – and that suspects, persons of interest and witnesses have these rights guaranteed in law – the sharper point being made is that using intimidation as a purported investigative tool is wrong. For another, it serves no purpose except to showcase strong-arm tactics. What’s good for questioning at midnight is good for questioning at midday.

Tactics such as late-night interrogations are supposed to create psychological pressure and to tire out the person under scrutiny. Investigators in a liberal democracy like India – all too familiar with the ‘midnight knock’ during the Emergency of the 1970s – would hardly do themselves, and their bosses, any favour by playing mind games that simply emphasise power that state machineries hold over individuals. But the bottom line is that in terms of conducting investigations, such B movie scripting only brings undue suspicion and disrepute to these otherwise-competent authorities.

Sure, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that integrating basic rights into investigation tactics is not used to block investigations. The core concern must be a robust investigation and to ensure that methods used add value to the outcome, not prejudice it. The courts, too, must factor in these restrictions used when deciding on issues like period of judicial remand. But Justices Revati Mohite Dere and Manjusha Deshpande are absolutely right in ordering ED to be mindful of passing off intimidation as part of the investigative process. It is not.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.