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Coercive police interrogation in India: A sociological perspective

Steven H Miles

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.076


Abstract

This fascinating book examines the widespread practice of coercive interrogation by police in India. This kind of coercion is typically non-judicial in that it is not imposed as a sentence. Rather, it is embedded, deeply ingrained, social and political inertia which, in Dr Lokaneeta’s view, is a state with the destructive legacy of colonialism striving to evolve into liberal modern policies. I note that the functions of police coercion in such societies are largely suppression of crime, protection of police corruption, and obtaining confessions for trial. Dr Lokaneeta takes the unusual approach of considering the infrastructure of torture from the perspective of sociology as described by Max Weber, Foucault and others. This differs from the more common approach taken by most torture scholars who work from psychological (eg Philip Zimbardo or Stanley Milgram who focused on torturers’ deference to the authority of the regime), human rights (Amnesty International), or cultural (eg Malise Ruthven focusing on how a torturing culture creates evil, subhuman enemies who merit torture not constrained by ordinary morality) perspectives. This sociological perspective puts the police as a site of state power, a useful choice but one that leaves the political constraints and instructions to police relatively less considered.

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