Kerala HC: Abusive, Derogatory Language by Police Against Citizens is Unacceptable

By Legal Wires 6 Minutes Read

The Kerala High Court observed that instances of allegations about the police disrespecting the citizens were arriving at its doors with alarming regularity, pulled up the police force for using derogatory terms while addressing citizens and directed the State Police Chief to instruct all officers to treat citizens with respect and file a report regarding the steps taken in this regard.

Anil JS v. State of Kerala & Ors.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran issued the order while disposing of a petition filed by JS Anil alleging harassment police who went to the extent of subjecting his minor daughter to verbal abuse.

It may not require this Court to speak with great elaboration or expatiation when I say that the afore words, if used to address citizens by Police Officers, is anathema to a civilised and cultured force and are the relic of the colonial subjugatory tactics. Certainly, they have no place in a free country marching in pace with needs and requirements of the 21st century. Use of these and such other words to address citizens by any Police Officer is wholly impermissible and therefore, it is now imperative for this Court to declare that such use by any member of the Force is contrary to the constitutional morality and conscience of our country and is antipodean to the ethos of a democratic system. It is so declared,” the order stated.

In the plea, the petitioner had accused the Sub Inspector of Police of harassing the petitioner constantly and even attempted to foist various complaints against him.

It was argued that once when the Sub Inspector was on Covid enforcement duty, the petitioner’s daughter and other people were seen gathered in the former’s Supermarket violating the Covid protocol.

therefore, he had issued the notice to them and asked them to comply the Covid protocol.

It was further submitted that the petitioner was found at the same spot on a later occasion without a mask or following the social distancing norms.

Therefore the respondent fined Rs 500/- on the petitioner under the provisions of the Kerala Epidemic Disease Ordinance, 2020. Negligently the petitioner continued to violate the Covid protocol. Consequently, the Sectoral Magistrate issued him a notice on 24th May 2021 and imposed a fine of Rs.2,000/-.

The bench declared that although the Police Authorities are obligated to enforce the Covid protocols, they were expected to do so with humanism and in full compliance with civilized behaviour.

The court noted that the petitions filed invoking the jurisdiction of the High Court – in what is now known as “police harassment matters” – impute that police officer addressed citizens with derisory and disrespectful words.

“When the entire world is reeling under the deleterious effects of COVID–19 pandemic, there can be no doubt that the citizens have to comply with the Protocols put in place, but this cannot be done – for whatever be the reasons – in violation of civilized behaviour and in contravention of the requirements of decency and civility, which are inbuilt into the system of policing in a cultured society.”, the Court observed.

Accordingly, it was ruled that the use of disrespectful words to address the citizens cannot be tolerated or permitted.

In this regard, the Court directed the State Police Chief to remind all officers of their obligation to treat and address citizens with respect and submit a report about action taken towards that end.

I direct the State Police Chief to issue necessary instructions, by way of a Circular or otherwise, to all members of the Force under his command that they shall address the citizens using acceptable vocatives and shall not use the aforementioned or such other words or phrases. Consequently, the State Police Chief will act as per the afore directions and inform this Court about the steps taken in this regard through a report to be filed within two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment,” the Court ordered.

Therefore the Court declared, in no uncertain terms, that the use of disrespectful words to address citizens cannot be tolerated or permitted and directed the State Police Chief to file a report with the steps taken to ensure the same.

Legal Wires

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