“Negro – a highly offensive word, no one has any business of using”: P&H High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday was abhorred by the actions of a Punjab police officer who identified an African National as a “Negro”. The man was an accused in a NDPS case (Amarjit Singh v. State of Punjab). Condemning the actions of the police officer, Justice Rajiv Narain Raina stated “.. This is a highly offensive word across the globe and no one has any business to use it, and much less the police...“. Furthermore, he clearly directed, “never to use the unprintable word in any police document including in challans or anywhere else on case papers including in investigation reports“.

Atithi Devo Bhava

A nation, were there is unity in diversity; where tolerance is a trait that we Indians pride ourselves with, had to face immense humiliation at the hands of an ignorant state official. The Punjab Police while investigating a case, happened upon an accused who was an African National. However the Punjab Police,  referred to him as a “Negro” in challan papers presented under Section 173 Cr.P.C.

Stating that linking the colour of the skin with the crime, or the fact that he maybe a potential suspect, is a primitive and perverted thought process. Both are mutually exclusive and should be treated as such. Furthermore, to prevent future misunderstandings, the Court gave the following directions:

  1. The Director-General of Police, Punjab is to consider the entire issue and notify instructions to the police force. It is to be conveyed that such an offensive term i.e. ‘Nigro’ or ‘Negro’, shall never be used, while referring to black persons in case papers.
  2. The pernicious practice should be stopped forthwith. The police must be commanded on pain of disciplinary action never to address anyone by that description. Furthermore, nothing of such nature shall be written down in official papers of permanent State record.
  3. Strict action is to be taken against the policemen who indulge in this character assassination based on physical features. Investigation of crime apart, an investigation should be non-aggressive in the search for truth and commission of cognizable offences.

The Court has directed the authorities to take appropriate action against the police officer. The authorities shall inform the Court of how the issue has been dealt with on the next hearing date.