It is very often seen that while performing official duties, police officials do not fully adhere to their responsibilities in a proper way and abuse their power for either personal or official gain. Dr Kolaventi Sudhakar was suspended by the state for raising his voice over the alleged shortage of masks and PPE kits in Narsipatnam area hospital in Visakhapatnam. With the global outbreak of this deadly virus, the doctors treating the infected patients are under a great risk of getting infected themselves. Under these circumstances the shortage of Personal Protection Equipment kits puts a big question mark on the administration. The Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the arrest of a senior anesthetist.
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Sudhakar was arrested by Visakhapatnam police on May 16 on allegations of misbehaviour, obstructing the duties of police and abusing the chief minister and the prime minister. Later, he was shifted to a mental health facility stating that he is mentally unstable. “When the coronavirus hit China I had warned that it would kill many people. No one listened to me. We had to wear a mask for 15 days,” Sudhakar told the media while he was being bundled into an autorickshaw by police. He had also attacked CM Jagan Mohan Reddy. Police had found Sudhakar allegedly in an inebriated condition on a main road in the city. His hands were tied and he was dumped into a vehicle before being taken to a police station. The anesthetist was half naked when he was arrested. The action had invited the wrath of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Earlier, the HC had directed that Sudhakar be produced before a magistrate and his statement recorded. The HC, after examining the Visakhapatnam district judge’s report, found many deviations from the report submitted earlier by the chief secretary, the DGP, and the medical certificate given by the Visakhapatnam government hospital’s doctor. The district judge in his report mentioned there were six injuries on the doctor’s body. The affidavit filed by the chief secretary and DGP mentioned only one. The judge also attached photos with his report. The court also observed that videos submitted by the officials seemed to be edited excerpts and not raw footage. The magistrate did not feel Dr Sudhakar was mentally unstable whereas the officials stated that he was shifted to a mental hospital as he was not in a sound mental condition. Arnicus Curie P Veera Reddy said the issue needed to be investigated by an independent agency as there were many unanswered questions, following which the court ordered a CBI inquiry. The bench said the case registered against Dr Sudhakar by cops should also be transferred to the CBI.
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Under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution, ‘Police’ falls in the State List of the 7 th Schedule, therefore it is within the scope of the respective State Governments to make laws to regulate the police in their State. There have been plenty of cases of police brutality, illegal detention, over exercise of powers, etc.
- In Saheli vs. Commissioner of Police, Delhi, a nine year old child was severely beaten up by the police and later died. It was a clear case of misuse of sovereign power.
- In State of Maharashtra vs. Ravi Kant Patil, an under-trial prisoner was handcuffed, arms tied with a rope and paraded through the streets, being subjected to humiliation and indignity. The Supreme Court relied on Rudul Shah vs, State of Bihar and Anr. (The petitioner who was detained in prison for over 14 years after his acquittal filed a habeas corpus petition under Art. 32, was awarded compensation ) and agreed with the decision of the High Court that a compensation of Rs 10,000 be paid by the State Government
- Nilabati Behara vs. State of Orissa is a case of custodial death where the mother reported the death of her son as a result of multiple injuries inflicted on him while he was in police custody. A three judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1993 concluded that the cause of death was police brutality which was a violation of fundamental rights and hence awarded compensation under Article 32 of the Constitution.
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These are a few examples of how there has been a lineage of abuse of powers by the police officials. These precedents ordered compensation for violation of fundamental rights due to police misconduct.
The fact that there was a significant difference between the police’s report and the report produced by the Visakhapatnam district judge proves that the police is trying to put a veil over their heinous actions. The police reported only one injury whereas the district judge reported six. This type of behaviour is a violation of fundamental rights along with the Human Rights of an individual. The court after noticing the gaps in the police reports found them ineligible to investigate the case further and it was then transferred to the CBI. The HC also ordered the CBI to register cases against all police connected with the arrest and submit an interim report within eight weeks.
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This post is written by Mohit Phulera.
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