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The response to Delhi stirs a history of lost opportunities | Opinion – editorials


Having been born and lived in Delhi for more than five decades, the recent riots and the inability of law enforcement agencies and the administration to prevent and limit violence in time shows how we are vulnerable as a society to mafia violence.

Both the administration and the police have vast powers to maintain law and order under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, or CrPC.

The police have vast preventive powers to stop early acts of violation of peace. They can even arrest and detain people who are about to commit crimes (Sections 149, 150 and 151 CrPC.) A recent example of the powers of preventive arrest that are effectively used to stop agitation and violence is the arrest of leaders and others in the previous State. of Jammu and Kashmir. Incendiary speeches and slogans, even if they are not strictly within the contours of criminal offenses, may be subject to the preventive violation of peace laws effectively applied for more than 700 years in England and more than 150 years in India

In 2014, when a petition was filed to curb hate speech before the Supreme Court, it was representing the Government of the Union. The higher court highlighted the existence of laws, but regretted the lack of implementation and wanted the Legal Commission to study the issue Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v / s UOI (2013).

At that time, the court declared: “Hate speech is an effort to marginalize people based on their membership in a group. Using expressions that expose the group to hate, hate speech seeks to delegitimize group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social position and acceptance within society. Therefore, hate speech rises beyond causing distress to individual group members. It can have a social impact. Hate speech sets the stage for broader subsequent attacks against vulnerable people that can range from discrimination to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide. “

However, in dealing with recent incidents of hate speech in Delhi and elsewhere, this statement of law has been ignored.

To ensure that the rule of law prevails and that the police do not prevail in the FIR register, a Bank of the Constitution of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari v. Gob de Uttar Pradesh (2014) ordered the immediate registration of FIR for crimes. However, despite acts of hate speech and incitement to violence, preventive measures have not been taken and FIRs have not been registered expeditiously.

By allowing state agencies to respond four weeks, the courts lost the opportunity to enforce the law. The Supreme Court tried to correct this situation by advancing the hearing of the superior court until Friday.

But the main court in the case of Lalita Kumari (paragraph 120.1) had been clear. He said that “FIR registration is mandatory under section 154 of the Code if the information reveals the commission of a recognizable offense and no preliminary investigation is allowed in such a situation.”

However, with the postponement of the superior court for four weeks, the mandate of the Supreme Court in the case of Lalita Kumari has been eroded. After Lalita Kumari, the superior courts have approached routinely in search of instructions for the police to register FIR and have done so. Cases of failure or delay in the registration of FIRs have led the courts to approve the restrictions.

The safety of citizens and non-citizens alike, is done when our police and administration ensure strict compliance with the law. In 1968, the famous jurist Lord Denning said: “I consider it the duty of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, as it is for each Chief of Police, to enforce the country’s law. He must take measures to publish his men so that crimes are detected; and honest citizens can deal with their affairs in peace. You must decide whether suspects should be prosecuted or not; and, if necessary, bring the accusation or verify that it is filed. But in all these things he is not the servant of anyone, except the law itself. No minister of the Crown can tell you that you should, or should not, keep comments on this or that place; or that should, you should not prosecute this man or that. Nor can any police authority tell you that. The responsibility for the application of the law rests with him. He is responsible before the law and only before the law. ”

Among all members of government officials, it is the policeman who has a constant interface with the public. In India, a police officer wears many hats, far beyond the statutes of his duties, which deal with issues ranging from family matters, marriage law, missing children, protection of the elderly, law enforcement, intelligence gathering, investigation and prosecution. The Delhi police have always prided themselves on their independence.

What is crucial for the man on the street is the timely preventive action of the police. While there are restrictions and the violence is over, however, parts of Delhi have been burned, many are injured and killed and the public’s confidence in their safety has eroded. This is not acceptable in 21st century India.

(The author is a lawyer of the Supreme Court and former additional attorney general of India)

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