Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Gauhati High Court Expresses Shock Over High-Handedness Of Traffic Police Against Commuter; Orders Training For All Constables

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
7 Sep 2022 5:01 AM GMT
Gauhati High Court Expresses Shock Over High-Handedness Of Traffic Police Against Commuter; Orders Training For All Constables
x

The Gauhati High Court has expressed its serious displeasure over an incident involving alleged misuse of authority and force by traffic personnel against a 'trivially errant' commuter. A Division Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed, "It is no doubt true that the authorities have initiated Departmental Proceedings against the erring police personnel...

The Gauhati High Court has expressed its serious displeasure over an incident involving alleged misuse of authority and force by traffic personnel against a 'trivially errant' commuter. A Division Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed,

"It is no doubt true that the authorities have initiated Departmental Proceedings against the erring police personnel and are also investigating the FIR lodged by the wife of the victim. However, as expressed in the body of the petition, for a trivial traffic offence, the police personnel should not and cannot be permitted to take law in their hands. As rightly expressed by the learned Advocate, who has drawn attention of this Court, we stay in a society where rule of law prevails and, therefore, it is eminently necessary for the respondent authorities to impart appropriate training to their police personnel and make them citizen centric while discharging their duties."

Facts:

A letter was written by Advocate Manish Goswami to the Gauhati High Court, on the basis of which the present suo moto Public Interest Litigation ('PIL') was registered against the police atrocities, which took place at Paltan Bazar, Guwahati City on 17.03.2022.

It was pointed out in the said letter that on the fateful day, a person was riding a two-wheeler alongwith his wife and his three-year-old child at Paltan Bazaar, Guwahati. On an allegation of a 'minor' traffic violation, the police constable on duty, namely, Fakhruddin Ahmed, assaulted the person riding the said two-wheeler. Such action of the constable involved in the incident was captured on camera and also went viral on social media.

There were allegations and counter allegations for which the bike rider, namely, Shri Biki Prasad Gupta, on a minor traffic infraction of driving on wrong side of the road, a heated argument took place which led to the scuffle. The report on the contrary reflected that other police personnel also tried to indulge into similar activities.

Contentions:

Mr. U.K. Nair, senior standing counsel, contended that the purpose and object of initiating this public interest litigation is not just to take action against the erring police personnel but as expressed in the communication, the police personnel are required to be specially trained for the said purpose. He further submitted that the respondent authorities did not indicate any such steps being taken in their affidavit-in-opposition and, therefore, he sought appropriate directions from the Court to the traffic personnel.

Mr. R.K. Borah, Additional Senior Government Advocate, Assam relied upon the affidavit-in-opposition filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), Guwahati, Assam and contended that the respondent authorities have seriously taken the complaint and have taken appropriate action against the erring police personnel. But he fairly submitted that the State Government shall carry out any further directions that may be deemed fit in the peculiar facts of the case.

Court's Observations & Directions:

Chief Justice Chhaya, speaking for the Bench, highlighted that though traffic personnel have rights to control the traffic but they cannot misuse the authority vested in them to violate the fundamental rights of commuters. It observed,

"Police may have the authority to control the traffic but the same cannot be handled as a tool to violate the fundamental rights of the citizen. Steps which are taken by the authorities against the erring police personnel do not end the agony of the citizens at large. It is, however, clarified that if there is any breach of traffic rules, the police personnel could have taken action in accordance with law instead of using force on the innocent citizens."

The Court was of the further opinion that the unfortunate incident happened due to lack of training of police personnel. It held that the police personnel, who are handling the traffic at traffic junctions, are required to keep citizen centric approach instead of using their might. The respondent authorities were accordingly directed as under:

  • To impart training to all Police Constables, who are handling traffic in cities, more particularly at all district levels, to remain citizen centric;
  • To educate their police personnel about their rights and responsibilities as a public servant;
  • To impart basic knowledge of law relating to the same by conducting trainings of police personnel. The respondent authorities were directed to take help and guidance from the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) for the same;
  • The State Government should constitute a committee for the same also consisting of the Member Secretary, Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) in order to avoid any such similar incident in the future.

The State was directed to carry out all these directions scrupulously and the Member Secretary, Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA), was directed to see that the above directions are carried out in their true letter and spirit.

Case Title: XXX v. The State of Assam & Ors.

Citation :2022 LiveLaw (Gau) 61

Case No.: PIL (Suo Motu) No. 02 of 2022

Judgment Dated: 5th September 2022

Coram: R.M. Chhaya, CJ. & Soumitra Saikia, J.

Judgment Authored By: R.M. Chhaya, CJ.

Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr. U.K. Nair, Senior Standing Counsel, Gauhati High Court & Ms. S.S. Hazarika, Advocate.

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. R.K. Borah, Additional Senior Government Advocate, Assam

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

Next Story