27/02/2013

Police and honourable judges

It is a well-known fact that if a common citizen complains at a police station against the excesses of a policeman, the officer on duty does not register his complaint, scolds him and makes him go unentertained; and in some cases detains him. It is also common in society that a daughter-in-law does not complain to her parents against her in-laws, fearing that following it oppression against her would be increased. The weak in offices, factories and mohallas do not complain to their officers and elders in society against a powerful person. Up to this is comprehensible. – But what will you say if even the honourable judges of higher courts also keep from getting a complaint registered against the excesses of policemen with a view that the police would further torture those on whose behalf the complaint would be registered? It would be called police state. Many would not agree to it. But after all it is a fact. One former Chief Justice of the Apex Court of the country and his two colleagues kept from getting a complaint registered against the sexual assault of a girl by some policemen in Delhi with a view that the police would torture the innocent children who had been eye-witness to the incident.

The relation of this case
This extraordinary case is related to the former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Justice J.S. Verma and his committee, which was formally formed to propose recommendations on making the criminal laws more stringent and effective following the sexual barbarism perpetrated on a 23-year old girl in December last. Justice Leila Seth (former Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh High Court) and former Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam were members of the committee. During the process of understanding the gravity of the situation at the grassroots level, the three judges talked to the four tender-aged children who had witnessed three policemen throwing by force a girl into the police van and committing sexual assault on her. The committee submitted its recommendations to the government one month ago; but the government has not taken any specific step in this regard as yet save and except issuing an ordinance to make criminal laws more stringent. The committee has levelled serious charges against the Delhi police. But the government has kept mum on it and it seems it wants to remain silent.

It means even judges fear the police
The question as to why the judges, even after having the statements of four tender-aged eye-witnesses of the excesses of Delhi police, did not get a complaint registered in a police station is very important. Its answer has been given by Gopal Subramaniam to Sandeep Joshi, a reporter of The Hindu thus: “We did discuss the issue and then unanimously decided not to pursue it as the safety and security of the children was our primary concern.” (The Hindu, 21 February) However the learned judges have presented the statements of the children in great detail in their 631-page report. And their interview with them is an important part of the report. Justice Verma Committee has in fact raised questions on the entire police system; to them this behaviour of the police relates to the demerits in the police system; therefore the entire system should be analysed afresh. It would not be out of place to mention what this police behaviour would be during a communal flare-up. In this very issue of The Hindu renowned social activist Teesta Setalvad has presented a picture of this dubious character of police with reference to Dhule riots.

25/02/13 khabar-O-Nazar by Parwaaz Rahmani, sehrozaDAWAT, translated by: Abu Yusuf

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