“The reverence of life is insegragably associated with the dignity of a human being who is basically divine, not servile.”

Albert Schweitzer, highlighting on Glory of Life, pronounced with conviction and humility, “the reverence of life offers me my fundamental principle on morality”.

The aforesaid expression may appear to be an individualistic expression of a great personality, but, when it is understood in the complete sense, it really denotes, in its conceptual essentiality, and connotes, in its macrocosm, the fundamental perception of a thinker about the respect that life commands. The reverence of life is insegragably associated with the dignity of a human being who is basically divine, not servile.

A human personality is endowed with potential infinity and it blossoms when dignity is sustained. The sustenance of such dignity has to be the superlative concern of every sensitive soul. The essence of dignity can never be treated as a momentary spark of light or, for that matter, ‘a brief candle’, or ‘a hollow bubble’. The spark of life gets more resplendent when man is treated with dignity sans humiliation, for every man is expected to lead an honourable life which is a splendid gift of “creative intelligence”.

When a dent is created in the reputation, humanism is paralysed. There are some megalomaniac officers who conceive the perverse notion that they are the `Law’ forgetting that law is the science of what is good and just and, in very nature of things, protective of a civilized society. Reverence for the nobility of a human being has to be the corner stone of a body polity that believes in orderly progress.

But, some, the incurable ones, become totally oblivious of the fact that living with dignity has been enshrined in our Constitutional philosophy and it has its ubiquitous presence, and the majesty and sacrosanctity dignity cannot be allowed to be crucified in the name of some kind of police action.

In D.K. Basu v. State of W.B.[1997], By the Supreme Court of India, it has been held thus: –

“10. “Torture” has not been defined in the Constitution or in other penal laws. “Torture” of a human being by another human being is essentially an instrument to impose the will of the “strong” over the “weak” by suffering. The word torture today has become synonymous with the darker side of human civilization.

“Torture is a wound in the soul so painful that sometimes you can almost touch it, but it is also so intangible that there is no way to heal it. Torture is anguish squeezing in your chest, cold as ice and heavy as a stone, paralyzing as sleep and dark as the abyss. Torture is despair and fear and rage and hate. It is a desire to kill and destroy including yourself.” – Adriana P. Bartow

No violation of any one of the human rights has been the subject of so many Conventions and Declarations as “torture” – all aiming at total banning of it in all forms, but in spite of the commitments made to eliminate torture, the fact remains that torture is more widespread now than ever before.

“Custodial torture” is a naked violation of human dignity and degradation which destroys, to a very large extent, the individual personality. It is a calculated assault on human dignity and whenever human dignity is wounded, civilization takes a step backward – flag of humanity must on each such occasion fly half- mast.

12. In all custodial crimes what is of real concern is not only infliction of body pain but the mental agony which a person undergoes within the four walls of police station or lock-up. Whether it is physical assault or rape in police custody, the extent of trauma, a person experiences is beyond the purview of law.

Any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment would fall within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution, whether it occurs during investigation, interrogation or otherwise. If the functionaries of the Government become law-breakers, it is bound to breed contempt for law and would encourage lawlessness and every man would have the tendency to become law unto himself thereby leading to anarchy.

No civilized nation can permit that to happen, for a citizen does not shed off his fundamental right to life, the moment a policeman arrests him. The right to life of a citizen cannot put in abeyance on his arrest. The precious right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be denied to convicts, undertrials, detenus and other prisoners in custody, except according to the procedure established by law by placing such reasonable restrictions as are permitted by law.”


Mahmood Nayyar Azam v. State of Chattisgarh (2012)