Friday, July 16, 2010

Allahabad HC tells police to treat people with dignity

Allahabad HC tells police to treat people with dignity



New Delhi: The Allahabad high court (HC) has warned police against violating the dignity of people by detaining them illegally

The court’s Lucknow bench has taken exception to a practice in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in which innocent women and children are detained in police stations for days because they’ve witnessed crimes or are victims of crimes.

Justices Yogendra Kumar Sangal and Devi Prasad Singh sought that the criminal justice system be revisited so that people’s rights are protected and directed UP to pay Rs25,000 to Afreen Bano, who was illegally detained by police.

Afreen had married Sartaj against the wishes of her family, which lodged a police complaint leading to her detention.

After the court intervened, police revealed they had detained Afreen for a fortnight at a police station for women pending a medical report confirming her age.

When the state’s advocate general argued there was nothing illegal in keeping women and children at police stations, the court said authorities can’t use police stations for anything except for what they were meant to be used.

“In case police are permitted to do so [use police stations to detain people], it shall create a gallery to abuse the process of law,’’ the judges said. They directed the Mayawati government to set up children’s homes and nari niketans to house such people.
Afreen maintained she was an adult and therefore, her marriage was legal. But police did not accept her version. The medical report confirmed Afreen was an adult.

The court maintained that if police were allowed to detain somebody for a long time without a good reason, s/he would suffer social stigma.

It said in a country where more than 35% were illiterate and almost 40% poor, peoplewere not expected to know their rights.

Pointing out that the legacy of the British persisted even now and that “police are not treated as friend of the people”, the court said, “It is not easy for a common man to enter a police station and lodge an FIR. In case police are permitted to detain a person or a witness in its campus for any reason, it will increase chances of abuse and rights violation.”

The judges cautioned the government against sticking to unjust, improper and illegitimate methods in investigating criminal cases, as this will make people lose confidence in the state.

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