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Andhra Pradesh High Court Quashes Rowdy Sheets Citing Udathu Suresh Case Against 'Intrusive Surveillance' By Police

EKTA RATHORE
21 July 2022 5:30 AM GMT
Andhra Pradesh High Court Quashes Rowdy Sheets Citing Udathu Suresh Case Against Intrusive Surveillance By Police
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The Andhra Pradesh High Court has quashed multiple rowdy sheets, suspect sheets and history sheets in a batch of writ petitions without going into the merits of the case, in view of the recent common order of the Court in Udathu Suresh vs State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.In Udathu Suresh, a single bench of the High Court had found that the actions of the police amounted to a violation of...

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has quashed multiple rowdy sheets, suspect sheets and history sheets in a batch of writ petitions without going into the merits of the case, in view of the recent common order of the Court in Udathu Suresh vs State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.

In Udathu Suresh, a single bench of the High Court had found that the actions of the police amounted to a violation of the right to privacy, which cannot be restricted without a law and without fulfilling the qualifications laid down in K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India.

The impugned rowdy sheets, history sheets and suspect sheets were opened under Chapter-37 of Andhra Pradesh Police Manual or Andhra Pradesh Police Standing Orders. Last week, after considering the law on the issue elaborately – referring to earlier jurisprudence, more particularly, K.S. Puttaswamy - the Standing Orders of A.P. Police Manual and A.P. Police Standing Orders, to the extent of opening and/or continuation of rowdy sheet, suspect sheet, history sheet etc., and on that basis the surveillance of the individual (in terms of Chapter 37 of the above said Standing Orders), were declared void.

In the order dated 15.07.2022, the Court had agreed that the police orders or police action will have to be tested against the conclusions in K.S. Puttaswamy case and any law which places restrictions on the well-established right to privacy will have to meet the triple test of legality, need and proportionality. In addition, procedural guarantees against abuse should also be present.

The Police Standing orders in the State of Andhra Pradesh were introduced as per a G.O. in 1960, amended by another G.O. in 2001, and later revised in 2017. It is stated very clearly in these three G.O.s that these orders are only "guidelines" which do not supersede any rule or regulation. This also makes it clear that the Police Standing Orders do not have any statutory force. They are not framed under the Police Act, 1961 or any other such law.

Thus, the Court had upheld that the Police Standing Orders do not have the force of law and they cannot be used as the means or the justification for opening and continuation of rowdy sheets. They are mere administrative guidelines. As per the Court, that Standing Orders do not have the force of law has already been established in Mohammed Quadeer and Ors. v Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad and Ors. and Sunkara Satyanarayana v State of Andhra Pradesh, Home Department and Ors.

In this backdrop, a single judge bench of Justice Cheekati Manavendranath Roy allowed the present writ petitions, declaring the opening of the rowdy sheets, history sheets and suspect sheets against the petitioners illegal and unconstitutional and quashing all of them. The Court stated:

"No surveillance shall be kept on the petitioners herein on the basis of the said the rowdy-sheets/suspect-sheets/history-sheets and the petitioners shall not be called to the Police Station in connection with any such rowdy-sheets/suspect-sheets/history-sheets, which are now declared as illegal and unconstitutional and which are closed."

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AP) 93 

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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