KOCHI: In the wake of a 21-year-old law student’s death by suicide alleging domestic violence and lackadaisical attitude of a circle inspector over her complaint, the Kerala High Court on Friday observed that if there is a prompt action against any erring police officer, the entire force would change its attitude. The court, in an oral observation, also expressed concern over the rise in the number of complaints regarding police harassment, saying ‘God help our State.’
Justice Devan Ramachandran orally observed that “If the State takes swift and stringent action against one police officer, just one is enough, the entire police force would change its attitude. Till then, this will continue; people will be chained, killed, and even forced to commit suicide.”
A police station is a public office, not a ‘terror field’. Any man, woman, or child should feel free and confident to walk into a police station at any time. The court also asked the government that why do you always restrict punishments to police officers with disciplinary action? What is this hesitation to take action against police officers? Police have to be protectors, they cannot be persecutors.
The observation was made when the petition filed by on the petition filed by K Rajeev of Thenmala, Kollam, alleging police harassment came up for hearing. The court had earlier found that “at least two Police Officers had treated the petitioner with unimaginable barbarity– handcuffing him to the handrail of the police station and registering multiple cases against him- all because he dared to ask receipt for a complaint which he had preferred before the Police Complaints Authority”.
The government pleader informed that police officers involved in this case have been suspended. Then the court observed that unless the police officials understand that they are accountable for their actions, nothing will change in this State. They know it will take years before any action is initiated against them for their wrongdoing, that’s why they are behaving like this.
The court also flayed the police for not taking criminal action against the police officers, who have allegedly harassed the petitioner. The court asked isn’t handcuffing a man in a police station is a criminal offence? Shouldn’t a criminal case be registered against him?.
The court noted that the petitioner had not only been harassed by the police officer upon asking for the receipt but had also been accused of obstructing the officer from discharging his duties. This is improbable, said the court and asked how and why the police believed they could do whatever they want and get away with it.
The Bench made it clear that it was well aware that there are only a few police officers in the force who engage in such exploitations, but to the public, such instances tarnish the image of the entire police force.
The court directed the government to explain why no criminal action has been taken against the erring officers before December 10.