Beating up women and teachers is animal behaviour: judge

The Supreme Court which last week took suo motu cognisance of newspaper reports with the caption ‘Punjab cops beat up woman in public’ and ‘Police assaulting women’ in Patna, on Monday issued notice to the Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretaries and Home Secretaries, DGPs and Police Commissioners of all the States and Administrators of all Union Territories seeking their response on implementation of the directions passed by the apex court in Prakash Singh’s case on police reforms.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Kurian Joseph also directed the DGPs of Punjab and Bihar to file personal affidavits giving explanations for the brutal incidents in which a woman and her father were beaten up in Tarn Taran (in Punjab) and teachers in Patna (in Bihar). The Bench also wanted the police officers who justified their action to file affidavits. During the resumed hearing on Monday, senior counsel Harish Salve, appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court, said the case raised important issues as to how the police wielded lathis. He submitted a brief note and the footage from television channels about the brutal incidents for the consideration of the court. There should be accountability at the top, he said and added that there was a nexus of taxi, bus and truck drivers and the police and complaints against them were not registered.

Referring to the two incidents, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said “police seemed to be happy to trigger their lathis. Police can’t pick up lathi and beat up innocent public like this.”

Justice Singhvi told counsel: “How can police act in such manner? How can a woman be treated in this way? There must be some norm for police to handle such situations. This is animal behaviour.”

Additional Advocate General for Punjab Ajay Bansal told the court that the policemen had been suspended and a magisterial enquiry had been ordered and it might take some time for the report to be submitted.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on April 1.

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