Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Deciding a petition by way of PIL which alleged that passports were being issued to Indian citizens and foreigners alike with non-existent addresses on the basis of false police verification reports of Special Branch of Delhi Police, the Bench of G. Rohini, C.J. and Jayant Nath, J. observed that it was necessary for the Union of India to revisit the existing mechanism for verification of the credentials of the applicants before issuing passports and to take steps for exploring more effective procedure.

In order to substantiate its allegation, a specific reference was made by the petitioner to the passports issued to 5 persons, whose addresses as recorded in the passports were said to be non-existent. The respondents submitted that though the passports were issued, the same were not misused. Upon further enquiry into all the 5 cases, it was found that no inquiry was conducted by the police authorities before issuing the police verification reports.Therefore, enquiry officer concerned had been suspended and a departmental inquiry was initiated by the competent authority.

The respondents submitted that though the possibility of an applicant applying with a fake/forged document or a genuine document obtained fraudulently cannot be ruled out completely and it is also possible for an applicant to furnish a proof of Indian citizenship such as election identity card, either fake/forged or obtained fraudulently, and sometimes such documents may escape the attention of the verification officer, all such cases cannot be treated as cases processed with malafide intention. In all cases where it has come to the notice of the competent authority that they have been processed by any official of the Passport Office by flouting any of the rules or processed deliberately on the basis of forged documents, appropriate action as per the rules is taken against the erring official, apart from taking steps for impounding/revocation of the passport.

The Court observed on the basis of the material placed on record that though sufficient statutory measures are in place to check issuance of passports on the basis of fake/forged documents “however, as admitted by the respondents themselves, there are still certain lacunae in the system which may result in issuance of passports to Indian citizens/foreigners on the basis of false/forged documents. It is, therefore, necessary for the Union of India to revisit the existing mechanism for verification of the credentials of the applicants before issuing the passports and to take steps for exploring more effective procedure”.

The Court held that “Keeping in view that passport is a very important document which enables person to travel abroad and the lapses, if any, in following the statutory requirements for issuance of passport may result in serious consequences, hence stringent approach be adopted while dealing with the erring officials”. It however, declined the plea of investigation by NIA or CBI deeming it unnecessary under the circumstances.

The writ petition was disposed of with a direction to the respondents to ensure strict compliance of the existing procedure for verification of the credentials of the applicants before issuing the passports at every stage of the processing of the applications. [Paardarshita Public Welfare Foundation (NGO)  v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 2811, decided on May 9, 2016]