I am sure that most of the readers would be aghast reading the title of this blogpost, but let me tell you that it is my earnest request without any sarcasm.
I feel empathy not just for those at the receiving end of the stick but also for the lawyers, the judges, the parliamentarian law-makers and all the normal citizens like me who have read the constitution of India, as I watch the viral videos of the police-action on the streets during the lockdown.
But, I am far more concerned for the poor policemen in these videos because they have a double whammy waiting for them as they try and enforce law for the benefit of society and in turn are made to do what may land them into legal trouble.
As the suo motu is the phrase that even my fruit-vendor knows thanks to our proactive judiciary, it is not too difficult to guess that somewhere somewhen someone will decide to ask a very simple question, i.e., “Under which law of India, is the police allowed to give on-the-spot corporal punishment to citizens for violating the lockdown?”, and the legal answer would be very difficult to face, for the policemen caught on camera.
With my limited understanding regarding the power to use force that is allowed to the constabulary under the IPC (even with the colonial Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 or The Disaster Management Act, 2005 in force) is not amounting to humiliate citizens by turning them into “murgas” or make them frog-hop on the street, and surely not beat them like cattle.
So, as far as current laws of our sovereign democratic republic are concerned, what police is forced to do is unlawful and it can lead to prosecution that can ruin the career and life of an average constable.
These videos have also granted me another clear understanding, and that is that the majority of India has no issue with such police action, and that majority seems to include even those in the judicial domain as I am yet to see any suo motu or otherwise action rigorously pursued by any stakeholder from the legal fraternity for what is actually an open-and-shut case.
If we are honest, it is absolutely clear that we know that we, the people require corporal punishment and hence we don’t feel that there is anything wrong with the police action that we saw during the last year.
In such a situation, as a democratic nation, it is the duty of the state to enact laws that people want and find acceptable, especially when there is a stakeholder, i.e., police constables who face a risk of being accused for their actions that people of India have actually no problem with.
It may sound absurd to have such laws in a civil and civilized society, but let us look around and see.
There are many nations that are not as confused about their citizens and how to make the following laws as India and they have all kinds of corporal punishment starting from flogging to public hanging as part of their legal structure. Such policing actions in these nations are sanctioned by the law of the land and hence they are as sacrosanct as any other law.
By pretending to be otherwise, we are actually insulting our democracy and also our constitution that is clearly written for a different kind of society and civilization.
The need to act is clear as our false pretense can actually hurt the lower rung of Indian police that has given its best to enforce one law by breaking another for the sake of the people of India.
If people are beaten like cattle and don’t mind being beaten like cattle, at least let them enjoy it lawfully; as, by not making it lawful, we are making a mockery of the constitution of India that has surely not anticipated that a liberated nation will have citizens wanting/deserving/accepting such police action.
I know that we are a “practical” nation and we will turn a blind-eye towards all these videos as if they don’t exist, but let us also realize that in the age of social media, the whole world is watching and judging us. So, it is best to get our laws in place. As we need what we need and there is no use pretending.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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