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How police custody differs from judicial custody

NEW DELHI: The insistence by former finance minister P Chidambaram, who is fighting a legal battle against CBI and ED in INX Media case, that he be kept in police custody and not in judicial custody, has put the focus on differences between the two forms of custody.
What is police custody?
Police custody means that police have physical custody of the accused while judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the court. In the former, the accused is lodged in the lock-up of a police station. Earlier accused were afraid of police custody as they were subjected to harassment and physical torture but such incidents have become fewer after the SC judgements enumerated the rights of accused and brought many police officers to task for custodial torture. Resourceful accused, politicians as well as others, certainly enjoy immunity from “third-degree” or, to use Americanese, “enhanced interrogation methods”.
After lodging of an FIR for a cognisable offence (which provides for punishment of more than 3 years), police arrest the accused to prevent him from tampering with evidence or influencing witnesses. Within 24 hours of arrest, police produce the accused before a court (mandatory under law) and seek his remand to police custody to enable it to complete investigations expeditiously. It is for police to decide how long it is warranted to keep the accused in its custody, which expires in 15 days.
What is judicial custody?
In serious offences, the court may accede to police request to remand the accused in judicial custody after the expiry of police custody so that evidence or witnesses are not tampered with. Law mandates filing of chargesheet in criminal cases within 90 days. If the chargesheet is not filed within 90 days, the court normally grants bail to the accused. But in heinous offences, like murder and rape, the accused is normally kept in judicial custody (kept in jail under the courts custody) for a longer time despite filing of the chargesheet so that the process of trial is not influenced.
The judicial custody may be of 60 days for all other crimes if the court is convinced that sufficient reasons exist, following which the accused or suspect must be released on bail.
Why did P Chidambaram request court to send him to ED custody?
When Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail for 14 days in judicial custody by a CBI special court in Delhi after his remand to CBI was over, he filed an application requesting the court to send him to ED custody though he could have remained in judicial custody without ED formally arresting him. The former FMs earlier insistence to remain in CBI custody instead of getting lodged in Tihar jail (in judicial custody) in INX Media case was probably driven by the fact that he would lose the comfort of a guest house and home-cooked food if sent to Tihar, where he would be treated like other jail inmates without such facilities.
In addition, getting lodged in jail under judicial custody ran the risk of getting arrested by ED yet again for the painful process to be repeated – spending up to 15 days in ED custody, and then getting remanded in judicial custody till he gets bail from a competent court. The pOriginal Article

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