Women, in this country, have since time immemorial held a special status. However, for a variety of reasons, that status of women in India has over the years suffered exceedingly on account of illiteracy and patriarchy. While there is a significant improvement in regard to general awareness about women rights, equality for women in the true sense in all respects will become closer to reality when women themselves know about their rights and the remedies available to them in law.
- You, as a woman have the right to know the offence for which you are being arrested. Further you have a right to not be handcuffed while being arrested. A person can be handcuffed only on the orders of the magistrate (according to Section 50 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- You have a right to seek legal aid i.e., call your lawyer (Section 41D, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- You have a right to free legal aid in case you are not capable of hiring a lawyer (Section 304, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- You are required by law to be presented before a competent magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest (Section 57, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- During the arrest a relative or friend can accompany you to the police station (Section 50, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- After the arrest, you have the right to be kept in a prison along with women.
- You have a right to be kept in the prison with dignity. Use of force is illegal (Section 51(2), The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- In case the police use force against you, you have the right to ask for medical treatment from the competent magistrate (Section 54, The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973).
- Section 53(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 gives you the right to medical treatment that should be provided by a female doctor. It is so because instances of unwelcome gesture of teasing female prisoners have come to light.
- For inquiry, if you are asked to come to the police station or anywhere else, you have the right to not go.
- You have to right for the inquiry to take place at your place of residence or in presence of a family member.
- Section 51(2) of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 provides that, only a female officer has the right to physically search you. Such a search must take place in a dignified manner.
Author: Nandini Gandhi