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Breaking: Kerala HC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance To Monitor State Action, Violation Of Rights, Police Excesses During National Lockdown[Read Order]

Akshita Saxena
30 March 2020 3:16 PM GMT
Breaking: Kerala HC Takes Suo Moto Cognizance To Monitor State Action, Violation Of Rights, Police Excesses During National Lockdown[Read Order]
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"Amidst the din of the Pandemic that engulfs us all, our laws cannot remain silent. They must continue to operate so as to protect the rights of our citizens. It is well established in our jurisprudence that the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, under Art.21 of our Constitution, cannot be suspended even during an emergency. As the sentinel on the qui vive, this Court must be alert to the cries of the citizenry, alleging violation of their Constitutional rights."

The Kerala High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of reported incidents of police brutality, against persons who are allegedly violating the national lockdown.

A division bench of Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly has issued notices to the state authorities as well as the Union of India, in the matter of unwarranted police excesses.

The bench observed that social distancing is essential to break the chain of transmission of the Corona virus and thus the state had deployed police forces to restrict non-emergent movement.

However, the court said that it could not ignore media reports, disclosing the use of violence by such police personnel.

"While we have come across an abundance of material in the print and social media, that would lead us to believe that exemplary work is being done by the health authorities as well as by the police personnel, we cannot turn a blind eye to some of the other material that has been published in the print, electronic and social media in the past week, that would point to excesses committed by the police personnel in the course of discharge of their duties," the bench said.

No Justification For Police Brutality Against Persons During Lockdown

The court said that it could not, even in the present situation of crisis, allow the Fundamental rights of individuals to be infringed.

"Amidst the din of the Pandemic that engulfs us all, our laws cannot remain silent. They must continue to operate so as to protect the rights of our citizens. It is well established in our jurisprudence that the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, under Art.21 of our Constitution, cannot be suspended even during an emergency. As the sentinel on the qui vive, this Court must be alert to the cries of the citizenry, alleging violation of their Constitutional rights," the bench remarked.

It thus decided to take cognizance of the matter to ensure that implementation of the lockdown in the State is done under the "watchful eyes" of the Judiciary.

"We have also to allay the fear amongst the citizenry as regards infringement of their fundamental rights. We are therefore of the view that the implementation of the lockdown in this State, by the Central or State authorities, must be under the watchful eyes of the Judiciary and, towards this end, we deem it appropriate to institute this suo motu proceedings to monitor State action during the lockdown period," the court said.

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