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Dignity cannot be sacrificed at altar of extraordinary situations: Bombay HC in plea against humiliating penalties by Police amid Lockdown

While issuing notice on a PIL against such conduct by certain police personnel while enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown, the Court asked the Police Commissioner to "ensure that such sordid incidents do not occur."

Aishwarya Iyer

The Bombay High Court on Friday expressed its displeasure over various reports of "unusual and humiliating punishments which are meted out by police personnel under the garb of enforcing the lockdown directives."

While issuing notice on a PIL against such conduct by certain police personnel, the Court has requested that the Police Commissioner sensitise the police to "ensure that such sordid incidents do not occur."

In this regard, Justice Rohit B Deo also emphasised, "the end does not necessarily justify the means."

"The police personnel who have indulged in a blatant violation of human dignity were expected to be alive to our society being a civilized society governed by the rule of law. While extraordinary situations may call for extraordinary measures, the measures must have the sanction of law. Human dignity and rights cannot be sacrificed at the altar of extraordinary situations nor can the constitutional right to a dignified life be hostage to supposed intentions."
Bombay High Court

In view of these observations, the Court has directed that no extra legal measures or punishments shall be taken recourse to by the police authorities while enforcing the lockdown.

"The police machinery has sufficient power under the provisions of law which would enable strict enforcement of the lockdown directives," the Court pointed out.

"While this Court trusts that the top echelons of the police machinery shall ensure that there shall be no further violation of human rights while enforcing the lockdown, should a single such incident be noticed, this Court expects the Police Commissioner to hold the senior officer within whose jurisdiction the incident has occurred, accountable", the Judge added.

Advocate Anil Kamale, representing the petitioner, had brought to the Court’s attention that alleged violators of the lockdown had been photographed holding placards declaring them as an enemy of the nation, the society, the family and humanity. These photographs were published in prominent newspapers and gone viral on social media since, the Court was told.

The Government Pleader KS Joshi responded that while certain such instances did occur in the first phase of lockdown, the humiliating photographs were not published by the police.

Apart from issuing notice, the Court has now also requested the Government Pleader to verify whether the instances highlighted by the petitioner have occurred or not.

The matter is expected to be taken up next on May 21.

Read the Order here:

Sandip Madhu Nair v State, thr Home Deptt & Ors.pdf
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