Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Vivek Varma, J. while addressing the present petition requested the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to have a complete inquiry or investigation due to the alleged violation of human rights and negligence in the prevention of such violation.

Alleged display of police brutality upon students who were protesting against the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 is the reason for the filing of the present petition.

At Aligarh Muslim University a huge number of students assembled to share solidarity with the students of other Universities who were protesting against the above-stated Act. On the evening of December 15th, peaceful processions according to the petitioner was lodged at the Library canteen of the University.

A huge contingent of the police forces moved towards the University circle and provoked the students by different means including intentional utterance of abusive words. Students were heavily injured by the brutal lathi-charge, rubber bullets and pellets.

Further, the petitioner stated that to disburse the assembly of the students, the force was used by the State. The contingent of police forcefully entered in different parts of the University including the library, hostels, classrooms, offices, etc. and brutally behaved with students. Police officials intentionally assaulted the students and also vandalized the vehicles parked on the University campus.

It has also been alleged that a large number of students were detained and tortured then on 16-12-2019, University Registrar issued notices to vacate the hostels.

Counter affidavit filed by the Inspector General, Law & Order U.P. and Senior Superintendent of Police, Aligarh stated that the students in violation of the precautions as per Section 144 CrPC gathered at the University circle and when the authorities noticed the hindrance being caused by some of the students in their routine functioning, Registrar, Aligarh Muslim University requested the District Magistrate, Aligarh to take appropriate steps.

Registrar of the University had sent a letter to the District Magistrate requesting the deployment of security forces to prevent any untoward incident. District administration received certain intelligence inputs and also information from the Proctor of the University about the assembly of the students inside the University campus and their march towards Bab-e-Syed apprehending unwarranted incidents.

Gathering taking advantage of darkness started pelting stones vigorously from various directions and that enormously destroyed University property. Having no other option, the district administration decided to enter into University campus to disburse gathering and preventing the property from being damaged.

Additional Advocate General submitted that the above-said action was taken to prevent loss to public and public property at large. He also stated that in accordance with Article 19 of the Constitution of India, the right available is only to assemble peacefully without arms. But in the above incident, the assembly was absolutely unlawful and was abating for violence.

Senior Advocate, Sri Colin Gonsalves stated that the petitioner’s demand is to have a complete investigation as there is a violation of human rights and commission of cognizable crime. He also referred to the observations made in the Supreme Court Case in Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Assn. v. Union of India, (2017) 8 SCC 417, wherein it was stated that,

“..inquiry or investigation by the National Human Rights Commission is of civil nature and that too is not an effective measure to bring the culprits of doing wrong to board.”

 

Decision

On perusal of the above-stated aspects, the High Court stated that, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 the Commission may inquire suo motu or on a petition relating to the students for violation of human rights or abatement thereof or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant.

There has been alleged violation of human rights and also alleged negligence in the prevention of such violation. The narration of the facts certainly demands a probe.

Court on perusal of the powers of the NHRC stated that the entire matter is to be inquired by the Commission.

Inquiry by the State Human Rights Commission also but in light of the fact that the National Human Rights Commission is already undertaking inquiry relating to similar allegations on a complaint filed by the students and some faculty members of Jamia Milia Islamia University, the Bench considers it fit to have an inquiry in the present matter too by NHRC.

Commission has been requested to complete the inquiry within a period of one month and to convey its findings and recommendations, if any, to this Court immediately after the conclusion of the inquiry/investigation. [Mohd. Aman Khan v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine All 1, decided on 07-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of Anant S. Dave, Acting CJ and Biren Vaishnav, J. disposed of a public interest litigation that challenged the ban on the viral online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (“PUBG”), without passing any further orders as the notification extending the said ban was cancelled by the Police Commissioner, Rajkot City.

Pruthvirajsinh Zala — a first-year Law student of the Institute of Law, Nirma University — had filed a PIL challenging the constitutional validity of the notification which imposed a ban on PUBG in Rajkot City. The Rajkot Police commissioner had laid a 2 months ban on PUBG sinceMarch using powers under Section 144 CrPC and Section 37(3) of Gujarat Police Act. Later, the Police even arrested several people playing PUBG and booked them under Section 188 IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

The petitioner who appeared in person before the Court, challenged that notification on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable at the very face of it, and violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g), and 21. The Government Pleader submitted that the ban was merely for the school examination purposes and even the parents were happy about it. Per contra, the petitioner argued that such justification did not fall under the ambit of reasonable restrictions and it was based on mere anecdotal views lacking scientific nexus.

On 29-04-2019, the High Court had directed the State to file an affidavit in reply with regard to the contentions raised by the petitioner. On 08-05-2019, the State sought more time to file the affidavit. the petitioner informed the Court that the band had been extended for another 2 months vide notification dated 01-05-2019, even though the school examinations were over and summer vacations had begun. The Court granted one day’s time to State to file the affidavit. On 09-05-2019, the Court was informed that the Police Commissioner, Rajkot City had denotified the ban extended on PUBG.

In such view of the matter, the Court disposed of the petition observing that no further orders were required to be made.[Pruthvirajsinh Zala v. State of Gujarat, R/WP (PIL) No. 78 of 2019, decided on 09-05-2019]

In the communiqué received from Mr Pruthvirajsinh Zala, he quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. saying — “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” He says he strongly believes in constitutional values and human rights; and that he acted to protect the fundamental rights and prevent arrests of the citizens of Rajkot for merely playing a game.