P&H HC | “Provisions of SC/ST Act should extend in its chain of thought process to all foreigners in India, they shouldn’t be called by any derogatory name”

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajiv Narain Raina, J., while addressing a major issue with regard to the usage of racial terms stated that,

use of racially coloured terms is an issue much deeper than it appears to be, it shows the stereotypical mindset of the Police authorities which fractures their ability to provide “equality before law and equal protection of law”.

Issue: Referring to an African National in the Government and other documents

Advocate General, Atul Nanda informed in the FIR format, the Punjab and Government has removed reference to “caste” in compliance of the earlier judgment rendered by this Court in CRA-D No. 610-DB of 2017 — Rakesh Kumar v. State of Haryana and CWP-PIL No.3189 of 2017 — H.C. Arora, Advocate v. State of Punjab.

In the recent order dated 12-06-2020, Advocate General drew Court’s attention on another major issue which was pointed in the Circular/Memorandum issued by the Director General of Police, Punjab, Chandigarh which was as follows:

“using appropriate terms of reference for addressing persons from various nationalities in all official documents”

While adjudicating on the regular bail application of, an accused in a criminal case of Jalandhar (Rural) Police district, Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken a very serious view of use of word ‘Nigro’ or ‘Negro’ in the official records of investigation.

Court issued directions to ensure that no such incident as above occurs again in future.

High Court welcomed the prompt steps taken by the Punjab Government in the proper direction to expunge pejorative racial words used against foreigners visiting India for work or pleasure from future police record, which reform initiative, when realized fully, will enhance the image of India and keep away situations like the one encountered in the present case and that such slurs are avoided and desisted from by the keepers of law; which was only one example amongst many humiliations and insults regularly faced on the street and in the market place by foreigners and Africans in particular.

When the new dispensation filters down to the mind of each constable on patrolling duty and to every police station, backed by State sanction in the Circular, it will greatly help in inculcating a sense of pious duty in the lower executive authorities and keep them in check by disciplinary action and at the same time foster a sense of security among foreigners travelling to and in India, which is now backed with the State assurance in the guidelines that they will not be discriminated against or insulted on the basis of skin colour.

The offensive term occurred in the challan papers.

Court re-emphasized that the derogatory term is not only unprintable but is unspeakable in the present time, in public or in private dealings between African/foreigner and the police personnel and equally in social circles in Courts territory as elsewhere.

Further the Court added that, it is counselling of the policemen on a regular basis though sensitization workshops, with a drop of liberal education added to the programme that might make that crucial difference in the desired approach in dealing with Africans in India without personal comments and insults.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 should parallel in principle and precept, extend in its chain of thought processes to all foreigners in India that they should be not called by any derogatory name while dealing with them.

Significant words relevant to the present context in the Act are: “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate”.

Crime or suspicion of commission of crime is to be dealt with in accordance with law and there is nothing personal about it for any policeman, as the offence is against the State and the laws must be enforced in a reasonable manner and by the procedure established by law. [Amarjit Singh v. State of Punjab, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 881 , decided on 01-07-2020]

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