It can be questioned whether a police officer executes his duty in accordance with the law or rather is it subject to his whim and fancies or as per his superior officer’s illegal command is something to be discussed in detail by the concerned Court. Can the police officer who had signed the remand copy disown his authority by stating that his official duty was executed according to the order of his superior?
By Paojel Chaoba
The primary purpose of Indian constitution is to safeguard the rights of the common man. History has more than often witnessed since the time of the colonial era on the time during the British Raj on how and why and how often the criminal law is somehow seemingly misused in order to harass those who speaks out against the authority, against those who take the ethical stance they are left to be a minority and the system will twist the arm of the minority to make them to the line. This happens most of the time as those who are in their comfort cocoon finds it rather disturbing to come out of their safety cocoon and perhaps they would not rather take that step, though it would be the rightful and ethical choice. Man would rather be in the safe side rather than compromise their safety. That would be fact in most circumstances.
However, the makers of Indian Constitution were wise enough to develop such mechanism and institutions to protect citizens of this country from the tyranny of misuse of criminal law by the authority especially the police. One such institution is our High Courts and Supreme Court of India where any aggrieved persons can reach out for safeguarding their rights. They are also simply known as constitutional court for the reasons that their institution is one that would uphold the constitutional, the fundamental rights of any citizen.
In recent times, the questionable silence of our constitutional court left us truly amused and that silence is rather deafening. One would point out the glaring tell tale incident of the arrest of a 19 year old boy called Paominthang Haokip, a resident from Churachandpur District, Manipur arrested at midnight on the allegations of posting a message in a private Whatsapp group to kill the CM of Manipur secretly, He was arrested for that post invoking several sections of the Indian Penal Code and that too non-bailable ones. Still, he was released the next day without producing him before the concerned Magistrate. That is against the law as the police acted on their own and, not as per the rules and provisions of criminal law procedure.
The question is whether the constitutional right guaranteed to this boy is lesser than those staying in the heart of the metro city?
Would there be such a demeaning calm if this case came to the knowledge of any other High Court regarding the police’s overstepping the jurisdiction of the court?
The recent incident was seemingly an example of the police trying to please their political boss at the same time undermining the authority of the court which is to safeguard the freedom of a citizen, the police carried out the act in complete disregard of the law without thinking the consequences? Or perhaps, they were brazen enough in the untold assurance that their political masters would protect them, no matter what. Perhaps, that is what transpired recently!
The Indian constitution is very clear on the separation of the powers between the Legislatures, Executive and Judiciary. The separation of powers is what checks the balance of power and its misuse. It is a blatant fact that the executives are often overwhelmed by the power of the legislators and they end up being just a political pawn in more ways than one. But there is enough constitutional safeguard given to the Constitutional Court and the Judiciary to stand up for the truth and for protecting the rights of the citizen and to take action against the misuse of criminal law which violates the fundamental rights of a citizen.
In the recent incident there was violation of the Supreme Courts Guidelines laid down in the case of Arnesh Kumar Vs. State of Bihar. A common man just on reading Wikipedia can grasp that an arrest is no longer the mandatory step after lodging a FIR against the person if the offence is punishable below seven years. Section 41 A Cr. P.C is mandatory in such cases where the person is charged with an offence which is punishable up to seven years. In short, any person who committed a crime which is punishable with a sentence upto 7 (seven) years cannot warrant an immediate arrest. There are many such cases where actions have been taken and the erring police officers which violated the guidelines of the Arnesh Kumar case.
Ashok Kumar (LL 2021 SC 472) the accused person filed a case of contempt before the Delhi High Court for not giving him opportunity to serve section 41A notice which is in violation of the Supreme Court’s Arnesh Kumar guidelines. The Delhi High Court had sentenced the police officer for three months imprisonment. In another case of similar nature, the Telangana HC penalised four police personal including an IPS officer, however, the order was stayed by the divisional bench of the HC of Telangana.
The purpose of reiterating this case is that the only institution which can take action against the police officers which takes the law in their own hands while undermining the authority of court is the Constitutional Court of a State.
The question remain unanswered in the case of recent incident that why the High Court of Manipur is silent of this glaring incident of misuse of the criminal law , a case in which the OC of the Churachandpur police station submits his statement in a bizarre manner that whatever he did was the order of the superior? It can be questioned whether a police officer executes his duty in accordance with the law or rather is it subject to his whim and fancies or as per his superior officer’s illegal command is something to be discussed in detail by the concerned Court. Can the police officer who had signed the remand copy disown his authority by stating that his official duty was executed according to his superior officer order and not according to the law but in contravention of the CrPC remain unquestioned?
Being silent is a powerful statement but if an authority like the High Court who is supposed to stand up for an individual’s constitutional rights remain silent in such cases of police atrocities, then it is a sign of being complicit to the act of the police and their political bosses.
Such silence would further question the independence, accountability and transparency of the judicail institution, one which is safeguarded by the constitution. Less it be said that such silence is one…a silence of lambs or of judicial impotence.