Bombay High Court: Rohit B. Deo, J., while addressing a PIL with serious and disturbing facets of enforcement of lockdown directives by the police force, held that,
“Human dignity and rights cannot be sacrificed at the alter of extraordinary situations nor can the constitutional right to a dignified life be hostage to supposed intentions.”
Petitioner submitted that while enforcing the lockdown directives to combat COVID-19, certain personnel of the police force grossly violated human rights. He also contended that, while police force was discharging duties, certain instances were highlighted in the petition as a blot.
Persons who allegedly violated the lockdown directives, including senior citizens on morning walks, are subjected to inhuman indignities.
It was further submitted that, photographs of the lockdown violators, which include elderly citizens and respected professionals, have been published in prominent newspapers and have gone viral on social media.
Petitioner in view of the above submitted that,
making a humiliating spectacle of the violators is a serious infringement of human rights and the constitutional right guaranteed under Article 21.
Court requested Additional Government Pleader K.S. Joshi to ascertain whether the instances which are highlighted have as a fact occurred, to which she responded that while certain instances did occur in the first phase of lockdown, the humiliating photographs have not been published by the police, however she requested time from Court on the aspect that whether the photographs were taken by the police personnel.
Bench stated that,
“..police personnel who have indulged in a blatant violation of human dignity were expected to be alive to our society being a civilized society governed by the rule of law. While extraordinary situations may call for extraordinary measures, the measures must have the sanction of law.”
Thus Court requested Police Commissioner to senstivise the personnel under his command to ensure that such sordid incidents do not occur.
While this Court trusts that the top echelons of the police machinery shall ensure that there shall be no further violation of human rights while enforcing the lockdown, should a single such incident be noticed, Court expects the Police Commissioner to hold the senior officer within whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, accountable. [Sandip Madhu Nair v. State, LD-VC-PIL-35 of 2020, decided on 08-05-2020]