WHO defines ‘health’ as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
This means that even if a person if free from some physical diseases, he can still be unhealthy if his or her mental state is not at ease and in a state of well being.
An overworked person who is in mental exhaustion therefore cannot be qualified as healthy. Similarly, a person who is under mental duress, like in the case of a person under detention ( or just as a witness to a case) who is subjected to prolonged hours of interrogation without rest, should be considered unhealthy.
It is against basic human right to question a person who is unhealthy.
In the field of occupational safety, a overworked person often is the cause of accidents because an overworked mind often cannot think properly and thus can cause important judgmental errors leading to accidents.
Similarly, a person deprived of sleep and proper rest cannot be depended on to think rationally and often judgmental errors and erratic recalls may result.
Sleep deprivation , as in the case of round the clock interrogation, is a form of mental torture that can cause a disruption of mental well beings leading to confusion and disorientation.
Taking a statement from a confused and mentally tired person is not only unfair but also a grave miscarriage of justice if a person is coerced into saying something untrue under such a state of duress.
Hence, a person under interrogation must be given enough rest to ensure that he or she has a clear understanding of the questions and that he or she would be able to think clearly to answer the questions.
Which is why in most developed countries, there are certain procedures for interrogation and prolonged questioning that may case mental duress is not allowed . There are strict guidelines since this is considered a matter of basic human rights.
Considering all these, I think the recent High Court judgment that questioning of witnesses should be confined to office hours should be lauded and all enforcement agencies should adhere to the spirit of this judgment .
To solve a case, there is no substitute to pain staking but thorough investigations, including using modern technology, and not by taking the easy way out and try to force a suspect or witness to say something that under normal circumstances he or she would not have done so.