Names of absconding accused may be published over social media: Punjab & Haryana High Court

The Court however clarified that entries and continuation of names of "accused persons" in the surveillance registers would remain confidential and could not be published over social media.
Names of absconding accused may be published over social media: Punjab & Haryana High Court
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The Punjab & Haryana High Court in December observed that there is no harm in publishing names of persons declared as absconding accused on the social media. (Harjot Singh @ Sajjan v. State of Punjab and others)

Justice Amol Rattan Singh made this pronouncement in relation to the Punjab Police Rules, 1934 particularly the norms concerning measures that could be taken by the police to try and apprehend persons who are declared by a court as absconding or cannot be traced these despite warrants being issued.

"This court would see no harm in extending the publishing of the names of such persons (as are statutory allowed to be published vide the aforesaid Rules), in the social media as is now available via the internet etc," the Court said

It noted that the 1934 Rules allowed for publication of details of absconders over newspapers and magazines, the only social media available at that point in time. Therefore, publication can now be permitted over internet and social media as well, the Court reasoned. The Rules made no provision for social media announcements since these were not available when the Rules were promulgated.

"Since in the year 1934 when the Punjab Police Rules were promulgated, there was no internet and consequently the only social media available at that stage would have been newspapers and magazines etc., this court would see no harm in extending the publishing of the names of such persons in the social media as is now available via the internet."

The Court, however, clarified that entries and continuation of names of "accused persons" in the surveillance registers would have to be subject to continuous revision.

A person’s name could be entered in the register only if the SP, SSP, and DSP in question entertained reasonable grounds to believe that the person was a habitual offender, the Court stated. The names and entries in surveillance registers could not be published over social media as the document was confidential, it was emphasized in a previous order from the same proceedings.

[Read Order]

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Harjot v. State of Punjab.pdf
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