Beat a cop, lose your identity

Call it the Dhoble effect or overzealousness on the part of the police top brass, but a circular issued yesterday states that all those who assault police officials will be subjected to an extreme form of punishment.

Satyapal Singh
In overdrive mode: Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh; (below) a policeman who sustained facial injuries during the Azad Maidan riot on August 11 after the protesters went on the rampage. File pics

The circular issued by the Commissioner of Police Dr Satyapal Singh states that those involved in crimes against men in khaki would be subjected to cancellation of driving licence, passport, employment exchange number and a lookout notice would be issued against them under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act. In addition, the police would be approaching the employer of the accused, asking him or her to blacklist the accused. The circular also states that licence of those possessing arms would be cancelled.

Policeman who sustained facial injuries

The circular, which was issued yesterday, is said to be a Diwali gift from the police top brass to his men and was issued in the wake of the riot at Azad Maidan on August 11, wherein the protesters who had gathered to condemn Assam violence turned violent and attacked on-duty policemen.

The circular reads: “From now onwards, every police station will make a different crime sheet of accused who assault policemen. The deputy commissioner of the zone will write to the passport department asking them that police have objection to the passport of the said accused who have assaulted a policeman and that person’s passport should be cancelled. The cops will also write to the employment exchange to cancel the registration of the accused. All the international airports will be informed about such accused and if the person manages to get a passport and leave the country, a lookout notice under MPDA will be issued in that person’s name. Firearm licence of the said accused will also be cancelled. The police will also write to the RTO, asking them to cancel the accused’s driving licence. Also, employer of the accused will be asked to blacklist the employee.”

The circular stated the decision was taken citing the growing incidents of violence against policemen and attacking them was like attacking the government and the law.

Legal experts claim that police cannot legislate or re-write the law through a circular and feel corrupt officials would exploit the new diktat for vested interests.

Criminal lawyer Pradeep Havnur said, “It appears the circular amounts to contempt of court. There is a Supreme Court ruling that states that only passport authorities can impound the passport. Besides, there is already a section under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for punishing a person who assaults a public servant. The police cannot legislate or re-write the law through a circular. A circular is only intended as a ‘how-to’ in implementing the law and nothing more.”

Advocate Mohsain Shirazi echoed Havnur’s sentiments. Shirazi said, “India is a country in which the rule of law prevails. Anybody who commits an offence can only be given maximum punishment prescribed by the law — after giving him a hearing.”

Social activists said chances of cops exploiting Singh’s diktat were extremely high. They said traffic cops would file false cases against those who argue with them.

“If the police department writes to the RTO, its officials will surely cancel your licence. On several occasions, cops book people just for arguing with them,” said Sachin Khirsagar, a resident of Bhoiwada.

The other side
“The circular has been issued considering the rising number of incidents wherein policemen have been assaulted. This will force people to not commit such offences,” said Nisar Tamboli, police spokesperson and DCP (Zone II). 

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