The Bombay High Court heard a Public Interest Litigation over the various reports of “unusual and humiliating punishments (extra-legal measures) which are meted out by police personnel; under the garb of enforcing the lockdown directives.”
Advocate Anil Kamale, representing the petitioner, informed the Court that the Police photographed the violators of the nationwide lockdown with them holding placards; declaring them as an enemy of the nation, the society, the family and humanity. Pressing the problem with such extra-legal measures; he added that prominent newspapers published these photographs and went viral on social media since. However, the Government Pleader KS Joshiargued that while such instances did occur in the first phase of lockdown; the police did not publish the humiliating photographs.
Decision By The Court
The Bombay High Court held, “The police personnel who have indulged in a blatant violation of human dignity; they were expected to be alive to our society which is a civilized society, which the rule of law governs. 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.”
In this regard, Justice Rohit B Deo also emphasised, “the end does not necessarily justify the means.”
Directions to the Police
In view of these observations, the Court directed that the police authorities should not choose extra-legal measures or punishments 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 indicated.
“While this Court trusts that the police authorities shall ensure that there shall be no further violation of human rights while enforcing the lockdown; if a single such incident is noticed, this Court expects that the Police Commissioner holds the senior officer; within whose jurisdiction the incident has occurred, accountable”, the Judge added. The HC directed the Commissioner to sensitize the police to “ensure that such immoral incidents do not occur.” In addition to issuing notice, the Court has now requested the Government Pleader; to verify whether the instances the petitioner brought up have occurred or not.
The next hearing on this matter is on May 21.