Swatantrata Center, in a letter to The Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India (CJI), Justice N V Ramana, and other judges of Supreme court and all the chief justice of High courts of all the states, urged to formulate a Model Code of Conduct for the Police while dealing with civilians to protect their human rights and the rule of law against police brutality.
Swatantrata Center Co-founder and founder of Youth Parliament Program, Raghavendar Askani, urging to treat Swatantrata Center’s letter as a Suo Motu PIL petition in the interest of the public, recalled how the Chief Justice was agonised during his discussion on the Indian police system and upholding civil liberties, how there was a humiliation of the Rights of the citizens.
It is kind of worrisome when the Chief Justice himself talks about the violations happening around. It shows how law and order are being implemented on a daily basis.
Raghavendar said that through the letter, Swatantrata centre wanted to draw the Chief Justice’s attention to the beating of people with lathis, using violence, abusive words and how civilians are being treated by police personnel throughout the country.
He deplored that Indian citizens were losing their civil liberties and fundamental rights due to the authoritarian culture embraced by police and bureaucrats.
Swatantrata Center asserted that the judicial authorities should uphold the law and protect the Human Rights, Civil Rights and Fundamental Rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution of India, especially Article 21 of the Constitution that ensures the right to life with dignity and personal liberty.
However, the Swatantrata Center deplored that many people who were out to do ordinary chores or go to the hospital or for any other purpose have been beaten black and blue during the pandemic. There were instances where people had accelerated their vehicles while seeing the police, leading to accidents and injuries.e
Our grievance is that police ought to treat civilians with dignity and respect.
We also recalled that during the lockdown, migrant labourers, daily labourers and the common man who needed daily grocery supplies to feed their families were most affected in the sense that they had all gone through various hurdles and tortures posed on them by the policemen. Some of them weren’t spared and were beaten.
Causing bodily hurt or destroying the property of any individual is unacceptable. It is time for the cops and bureaucrats to act responsibly and embrace the respect for Civil liberties that the Constitution guarantees.
During this time, there was a considerable rise in custodial violence too. According to a survey in 2019, as many as 1,739 people have lost their lives in custody. There are estimates that the unofficial records or unreported records of cruelty by the police are more than the ones officially filed.
In a foreign country, there was a custodial death which was followed by huge agitations, which led to major reforms in the police system. But, unfortunately, our country has been seeing custodial deaths, encounters, and cruelty by police officers daily. It is worrisome as the Governments and the general public are silent on this matter.
It is time for the judiciary to consider this matter and do the needful.
In this recall, Swatantrata Center mentioned that the Supreme Court time and again under article 142 of the Indian Constitution has brought reforms in protecting human rights and Rule of Law.
Examples are guidelines in the D K Basu vs. state of Bengal regarding the rights of an accused during arrest, the procedure to be followed by the police during an arrest, guidelines regarding police reforms in Prakash Singh vs. Union of India (2006), reforms in the CBI via the Vineet Narain vs. Union of India.
In this letter, we would like to appeal to your lordships to take this. Your Lordships may kindly also understand the future of pandemics and lockdowns is unpredictable. There may or may not be lockdowns in the future. But, if there is a lockdown in the future, this PIL seeks to plead this apex court of justice to protect the people of India.
As they say, a stitch in time saves nine. It is not right to beat a person with lathi or damage their personal properties. It is below human dignity to do so. We would request the honourable court to take this case seriously for the good and welfare of all.
Swatantrata Center sent this letter to all Judges of the Supreme Court and also all Chief Justices of High Courts in the country, requesting to consider cognisance of this case as a Suo Motu.