SC angry over police brutality and citizens apathy

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Supreme Court
New Delhi, March 11: The Supreme Court today took strong objections to the police behaviour and expressed displeasure at the apathy of public at large.

The court said the beating up of innocent and unarmed people was "animal behaviour". It was referring to the incidents of beating up of a girl in Punjab and school teachers in Patna by police personnel.

"Why men in uniform behave in this way? A helpless lady was beaten left and right. It also raises accountability of citizens. What those people standing there were doing? Are we becoming senseless society? It happens everyday in some part of society. What about those thousands of untold stories," the bench asked.

On March 4, the girl was thrashed by police constables when she had approached them along with her father for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran district.

In the other incident, Bihar Police personnel on March 5 resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the Assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers.

"How can police act in such manner? How can a woman be treated in this way? There must be some norm for police to handle such situations," the bench said, adding, "Time has come to undertake some exercise to stop such incidents and some concrete action must be taken by the state. "... Innocent and unarmed people were beaten up in these incidents. This is animal behaviour..."
The court passed the order after it took suo motu cognisance of media reports about the two incidents.

The court issued notice to chief secretaries, home secretaries and DGPs of all states and police commissions of UTs on implementation of the court's directions in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms.

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi also directed the DGPs of Bihar and Punjab to file personal affidavits giving explanations for the incidents. The SP of Patna and SSP of Tarn Taran districts were also directed to file the affidavit.

The counsel appearing for Punjab said the state government has suspended the erring police personnel and magisterial inquiry has been ordered in the case.

The court, however, was not satisfied and said, "What district magistrate would do? It was witnessed by many... Was that lady a terrorist that she was beaten up by police on highway? You are saying about inquiry. Don't throw mud in eyes of everyone. These are British formula. Go and visit Jallianwala Bagh and see the well where 120 people jumped to save their lives.

"If the government is serious then it would have taken steps within 24 hours. Our experience says that suspended police officials would be reinstated after three months.

"Issue notice to government of India through Secretary of Home Ministry, all state governments and union territories (UTs), chief secretaries, home secretaries and DGPs of all states, police commissions of UTs on implementation of the court's directions in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms," the bench said.

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