Gauhati High Court

Gauhati High Court:In a case relating to suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the police atrocities, which took place at Paltan Bazar, Guwahati City on 17.03.2022, the division bench of R.M. Chhaya, CJ. Soumitra Saikia, J. has observed that Police may have the authority to control the traffic but the same cannot be handled as a tool to violate the fundamental rights of the citizen. Further, the steps taken by the authorities against the erring police personnel do not end the agony of the citizens at large, and if there is any breach of traffic rules, the police personnel could have taken an action in accordance with law instead of using force on the innocent citizens and issued certain directions to the State authorities.

In this case, the victim was riding a two-wheeler along with his wife and his three-year-old child at Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati. On an allegation of a minor traffic violation, the Police Constable on duty assaulted him and a heated argument took place leading to a brawl. Such action of the constable involved in the incident was captured on camera and had also gone viral on social media. Moreover, a First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against the bike rider for alleged offences under Sections 294, 341, 353 and 325 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and also, against the constable under Sections 294, 325, 34 of IPC. The respondent authorities have taken departmental action against the constable and suspended him from service, pending the enquiry.

The Court observed that “we stay in a society where rule of law prevails and, therefore, it is eminently necessary for the respondent authorities to impart appropriate training to their police personnel and make them citizen centric while discharging their duties”. It further noted that the allegations levelled against the victim were without any foundation.

The Court further observed that such an incident occurred because of lack of training in police personnel and viewed that the State authorities should periodically apprise their police personnel and must give practical training to the higher officers. Moreover, the police personnel, who are handling the traffic at traffic junctions, must keep a citizen centric approach instead of using their might. Thus, directed the State authorities:

(i) To impart training to all Police Constables, who are handing traffic in cities, more particularly at all district levels, to remain citizen centric.

(ii) To educate the police personnel about their rights and responsibilities as a public servant.

(iii) To impart appropriate basic knowledge of law by conducting training of police personnel by taking help and guidance of the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) for the same.

(iv) To constitute a committee for the same also consisting of the Member Secretary, Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) in order to avoid any such similar incident in future.

[XXX v. State of Assam, 2022 SCC OnLine Gau 1270, decided on 05.09.2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Senior Advocate U.K. Nair, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Advocate S.S. Hazarika;

Government Advocate R.K. Borah, Advocate, for the Respondents.

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