Recently, the Karnataka High Court rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate asking directions to concerned Station House Officers to enlist First Information Reports (FIR) against the police authorities who purportedly tortured lockdown violators.
A division bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice M Nagaprasanna stated that the petition filed by Advocate Balakrishnan is frivolous, containing unverified allegations, and rejected it. The court also charged a fine of Rs 1000 on him which is to be deposited with the Karnataka Legal Services Authority within 30-days.
The Court stated that, "Except for making bald statements in the writ petition nothing has been brought on record in respect of so-called alleged police atrocities."
The Court added that the petitioner has not cited any instance or documentary proof that can show that persons have been assaulted by the police for violating the lockdown norms. In this case, stray incidents took place where an aggrieved person has the right to file an FIR.
The petitioner who is an advocate has knowledge about the process of filing an FIR and in the present case police is not registering a case, he has the right to file a complaint under Sec 200 of Criminal Procedural Code, 1973.
The Court also stated that during the covid 19 pandemic police force in Karnataka and all over the country are working day and night, providing help to the common citizen and by no stretch of the imagination it can be said they are committing atrocities during the COVID – 19 pandemics as stated in the writ request."
Further while rejecting the prayer asking disciplinary inquiry against police officials, the court stated that "The whole world is confronting a very grave situation under COVID – 19 pandemic and it is resulting in loss of lakhs and lakhs of living souls all over the world. Keeping individuals restricted to their house is surely decreasing the risk of infections. Police personnel who are working as frontline workers are exposed to infection more than the common man. Despite hundreds of hundreds of deaths of doctors, police personnel, paramedical staff, frontline workers, etc. even though there being a threat to life, they are performing their duties religiously. The police personnel are on the roads performing their responsibility constantly in uniform. This Court does not rule out the possibility of a couple of instances of such alleged atrocities, but there is a remedy available in law for filing a complaint under the Code of Criminal Procedure."
It was additionally noticed that 41 Police workforce have lost their lives due to COVID - 19 between April - 1 and May - 13. In the first wave of Pandemic around 103 police authorities succumbed to COVID - 19. Taking the precedent of State of Uttaranchal V. Balwant Singh Chaufal (2010) 3 SCC 402)] case, where the court held "A frivolous Public Interest Litigation containing unsubstantiated allegations deserves to be dismissed to preserve purity and sanctity of public interest litigations."
The court also deplored the conduct of the petitioner who compared the incident of lathi charge over Lala Lajpat Rai. "The freedom struggle cannot be compared to the lockdown imposed because to COVID – 19 pandemics".