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Last month, the Court had castigated the use of a derogatory term to refer to an African National in an NDPS case and directed the police"never to use the unprintable word in any police document."
"May I ask, what colour is God’s skin, and is there is any God, if anyone knows?"
Justice Rajiv Narain Raina recorded the rhetorical query in an order passed last Wednesday to emphasise that people should not be discriminated on the basis of skin tone or race.
The judge was prompted to take up the issue last month after an African national involved in an NDPS case was referred to by a derogatory term in police records (Amarjit Singh v. State of Punjab).
The Court was later informed that the term was used by a witness and not the police, and that it was recorded in a witness statement. The Judge, however, emphasised that even witnesses must be cautioned against using such terms.
"If a witness or an accused uses that derogatory racial term dealt with, he should be taken to task. It is the attitude of the police which requires reform and if the process of change comes about... only then can we truly achieve meaningful and proactive colour blindness against social and biological prejudice and the typification of a class of persons as inferior or superior", the Court noted.
Justice Raina added,
Following the Court's directions issued last month, the Director General of Police, Punjab issued a circular on June 16 on the issue of “using appropriate terms of reference for addressing persons from various nationalities in all official documents."
This circular barred the usage of the word ‘Nigro’ or ‘Negro’ or any such words, including ‘kala’ and other ‘racist’ words having any racist connotations whatsoever in any official case record. The usage of such racist words were also completely prohibited in referring to any person.
Apart from directions to sensitise the police officers on this mandate, the circular also warned that any violations would be viewed seriously and as misconduct attracting disciplinary action.
The Court, in turn, appreciated the prompt steps taken by the Government to address the concern. The judge added,
He went on to explain that the use of such racially coloured terms is an issue much deeper than it appears to be.
With these observations, the Court proceeded to dispose of the matter. Whereas the main NDPS matter had already been dealt with, the case had been kept pending to follow up on the action taken against the use of racial slurs after the issue was noticed in the last hearing.
In view of the steps taken to address the problem since, the Court parted with the matter, observing,