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Unlawful Homicides and the Power of Police


It is a fact that has been recognized and developed in many constitutions of the world that every person has the right to life. Therefore, not only the statutes and judgments of criminal law but also moral practices have testified that murder is a more serious offense under criminal law. Therefore, the term “unlawful homicides” has become a controversial legal topic in the 21st century and its most notable is the use of police power to commit unlawful homicides. According to the concepts of administrative law, police officers are empowered to exercise their utmost for the benefit of the people. For that reason it should be used with care, like a double-edged weapon. It is not just a matter of fact or news that a person who is known only as a non-guilty suspect is unlawful homicides by the use of police force while in police custody. In studying such a case there is the ability as well as the capacity to build broad arguments based on a legal framework.

Unlawful Homicides?

In defining what is unlawful homicides it is more important to pay attention to Article 299 of the Indian Penal Code. Culpable homicides can be identified as the first component of unlawful homicides.

· The action in question must be an act of intent to cause death.

· Activity may be the motive of physical activity that would be the death of the action.

· It is a deliberate act that can lead to death.

Without one or the other of those elements, an act can be criminal in nature but fatal, but it is not the same as the crime of murder. However, although there are differences when it comes to murder, it does make it more likely that a person will be convicted of a felony.

Power of Police?

It has been stated that the Central Government has empowered the police to maintain law and order and investigate crimes. It is listed on the PRS legislative research web page. Police are empowered under the Police Ordinance No. 16 of 1865 in Sri Lanka while India Possesses The Police Act No.5 of 1861. The ways in which the police are empowered vary from country to country, but their ultimate goal is to maintain peace and security in society. In carrying out that purpose, the police must act in a more just, equitable and respectful manner. It is the most established on the Latin maxim of Salus populi est suprema lex.

According to the Theory of Social Contract, man gives the supreme power he possesses to the ruler based on the need to enter into a more formal social system. Among the powers vested in the three institutions of the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary are the powers vested in the Police by the Executive. According to this connection, the power ultimately vested in the police is nothing but the power of the people. Therefore, that power is to satisfy the people and not to nullify it. It is therefore timely to ask what the police force should be, as the School of Natural Law emphasizes, rather than what police power is within the legal framework.

Causes of unlawful homicides using the power of police ?

All police actions legality, necessity, discrimination, proportionality, and must respect the principles of humanity. The opposite is unlawful homicides. Unlawful homicide can sometimes be caused by a person who uses his power to establish peace and security but fails to judge as to where the limits of that power end. The question is, on what basis can such an act, carried out in the name of power or authority, using police force, be justified?

When inquiring into the legal situation in Sri Lanka, such instances are often reported when a suspect is taken to the police station and detained for questioning. One of the landmark judgements in Sri Lanka Sriyani Silva vs. Iddamalgoda, OIC Paiyagala Police Station (2003) 2 SLR 63 the court decided that it was obvious chance and formed the basis of a judgment of a number of cases related to the history and interpretation while In re-death of savinder singh grover (1995) 4 SCC 450 also a landmark judgment in India, which discussed the Indian law under the same manner. The most talked about incident in recent times has been the death of a person called George Floyd under the police arrest in United States on May 25, 2020. It’s not only a legal issue but also became a social issue.

From the point of view of police officers, there have been instances where more violence has been created in connection with arrests. As such cases become more complex; it becomes questionable to what extent police force should be used. In the face of the complexities of student movements, combat, and the role of rebel groups, police officers are increasingly recognizing examples of shooting or killing a human being based on their use of force in an emergency. No Constitutional not be sufficient to create a state that the emergency response to one of the small number of right violation for life.The shakila Abdul Gafor Khan vs Vasant Raghunath Doble (2003) case emphasizes that the use of police force to kill a person violates the rule of law and the principles of criminal justice.

In practical operation thus can identify a number of opportunities unlawful homicides occur in some cases and it is justified on various issues. For example, it may be justified to suppress minority rights for the sake of majority rights based on utilitarianism, but it is debatable whether those rights include the right to life. In some cases, unlawful homicides were carried out by certain officials acting on the political interests of a highly politicized social system, but attempts to take action against it have been minimal. So it could be a reason for the growth of such crimes. Therefore, the judiciary has a huge interpretive role to play. We must ensure that we do not allow acts of inhumanity to be punished, regardless of our legal status. Furthermore, in the exercise of police power, there are instances where officers try to interpret the constitutions which they have been empowered to do as they wish. It is therefore a reason to uphold the rule of law to minimize such situations as much as possible.

The constitutional background of Unlawful Homicides and the Power of Police

We should not oppose any crime solely on the basis of the notion that it is against the law. That is, a crime is inherently inhumane and seeks to protect society as a whole by punishing it through criminal law. Any law in any country is governed by the Constitution, the supreme document of that country. Matters of criminal law are also more appropriate to discuss on constitutional grounds than simply to discuss them absolutely. As stated in the preamble to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, "In creating and safeguarding a just, free society for future generations of the people of Sri Lanka...”. That is, the Constitution provides the basis for the realization of the right to live freely in a free society. But the right to life is not recognized in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. However, there are instances where the right to life by studying the Constitution as a whole has been confirmed through court decisions. However, the right to life enshrined in the Constitution of India is thus recognized through Article 21, which is a positive element in the interpretation of this title. Examples include opinions expressed through judgments such as Prakash Singh vs Union of India (2006) 3 SCC 417.

It thus proves that the right that can be affirmed through the Constitution today cannot be infringed by the use of police force more than the law of the past. But it can be argued that the use of unlawful homicides by police power has been around for a long time. That is to describe, it is clear from the modern examples that the police carry out these unlawful homicides on different methods. In Sri Lanka, for example, there have been several reports of suspects being arrested and interrogated at police stations. Since the presumption of innocence is accepted through Article 12 (5) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Article 11(1) of Constitution of India, it is possible that an innocent and just person has died in this manner. On the other hand, such an act is contrary to the constitutional principle that AV Dicey should be punished by a properly established court of law as stated under the rule of law.

One of the ways in which unlawful homicides are carried out using police force in the modern world is to capture and kill alleged underworld criminals. It is up to the courts, not the police, to decide whether or not a person is a criminal. But the fact that the police act in this manner is an exercise of judicial power, which contradicts the concept of separation of powers under the Constitution. But the problem is that there is no opposition to the unlawful homicides of a person who is supposed to be a criminal by the police. This is unjustifiable when distinguishing between social and legal issues.

Another issue related to this is whether equality before the law as enshrined in Article 12 (1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka and Article 14 of the Constitution of India is properly guaranteed. In the context of the pervasive political culture, especially in Asian countries, there is even a possibility of acquitting a person convicted of unlawful homicide for abusing police power and ending another’s life. But the government appears to be a party to a criminal case because it offends society as a whole. The basis for such an intervention is questionable if the perpetrators of such a background are not properly punished.

Although unlawful homicides are a criminal offense, in addition to a criminal case in the Sri Lankan judiciary, there is an opportunity to impose a fundamental rights case by proving the grounds under Article 126 (2) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka and Article 226 of the Constitution of India guarantees not only the fundamental rights of the parties but also the opportunity to go to the High Court in case of violation of legal rights. It is also possible to file a case before the Supreme Court only if a fundamental right is violated under Article 32. It blocks the escape of law enforcement personnel themselves and opens up the possibility of providing appropriate legal redress for the victims.

International Legal Basis for Unlawful Homicides and the Power of Police

Since Sri Lanka as well as India is dualism states, an international convention is therefore not part of our law. For that, the local legislature must enact a constitution and ratify that international legal status. But the general international legal situation as a whole is summarized as follows.

Article 3 of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to life and liberty." Many commentators have argued that the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Constitution of India is based on this Convention and incorporates its contents. Therefore, under Sri Lankan law, police officers must be aware of the international legal standards that have been ratified by the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as their compliance with domestic law.

In many cases, those who resort to unlawful homicides will die as a result of police brutality. The United Nations Human Rights Council of 1948 also enshrined the right not to be subjected to such torture in Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which applies here as well. These conditions are also emphasized in the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In summary, it is the responsibility of public servants to exercise police power in a way that satisfies all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, "a sovereign state always divides society into two groups, one group of which are full citizens with full rights, and the other who are merely animal-like creatures whose rights have been curtailed. Part of it is exposed to cruelty in any way and those who use it have the ability to escape the law and escape punishment.”

But what all nations need to understand in general is what is the basis for ensuring the right to human life, even under internationally recognized conditions, and what harm it is intended to prevent. It is clear, therefore, that international and domestic law is protected to the extent that the exercise of police power is subject to real limitations.

Violation of moral background through Unlawful Homicides and the Power of Police.

The School of Natural Law interprets every aspect of the law from a moral perspective. The phrase unlawful homicides are a violation of morality. It has been stated that law and morality differ on legal, philosophical and philosophical grounds, but analysis of the penal codes in Sri Lanka and India confirms that moral values have been given legal value. Many of the issues that lead to sentencing, especially in criminal law, are unethical. Accordingly, it is unethical for the police to carry out such unlawful homicides. This is because they are people who hold a certain position and power for the people who have gone beyond the ordinary people.

According to the moral background of this law, which is intertwined with issues such as religion, justice, equality, justice and dignity, the stars can be presented on any topic, but this is not acceptable when asked about the legal framework as human beings. It can therefore be argued that in the context of international customary law advancing with democratization, unlawful homicides carried out by police force will one day become a crime under jus cogens.


The average person has more respect for matters related to the power of a police officer. It is based on the supremacy of that law. But it would be better to make sure that such an act is not a form of punishment than to commit unlawful homicides, which are considered a heinous crime committed by such an officer. The reason for this is that it is legal to punish the officer after the name. But it does not bring the victim back to life.

And also questioned the adequacy of the existing law on matters of public opinion, persuasion of senior officials, weaknesses in the judicial process and misunderstanding of the law. Every state must ensure that this fact is covered in the laws enacted for the welfare of the people. Otherwise, the purpose for which man in the past many years ago created the ruler on the basis of social contract and delegate his power to the ruler himself will be abstracted.

AUTHORED BY: Sujan De Silva

Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

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