oppn parties Park Street Slapping: Police Cannot Legally Hit A Citizen

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Park Street Slapping: Police Cannot Legally Hit A Citizen

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Who do some policemen think they are? They are recruited to ensure that the citizens do not break rules while at the same time it is their duty to help those in distress. But some policemen in Kolkata are so full of themselves that they treat the very citizens whose taxes pay for their salaries as dirt. The incident on Park Street in Kolkata on Wednesday goes on to show that given a chance, traffic sergeants will turn violent, hit the citizen and will not even apologize, even if the person is a female.

The sergeant made several mistakes. There is no law in India that empowers a policeman to hit a citizen, not even if he or she has broken a law. At most, the person can be arrested and if he or she resists, then the policeman can overpower and arrest. Also, policemen can never touch a woman, let alone hit her. They have to call a lady constable for arresting a female. Further, the policeman on Park Street is reported to have kept on insisting that the woman should not have patted him (“apni policer gaye hath dite paren na”). Which law prevents a citizen from touching or patting a policeman to draw his attention? It was not as if the woman had hit him. As it was a chilly winter evening, the policeman was wearing the regulation jacket over his uniform and his name badge was hidden. Luckily, the woman’s companion got the man on her mobile phone and they were able to lodge a FIR.

Although the sergeant is reported to have been de-rostered, behind the scene activity has picked up in which the complainant was called up by senior police officers and was obliquely pressurized to accept an apology and withdraw her plaint. Veiled threats were also issued by telling her that similar charges would be slapped on her too. But the woman is made of stern stuff and she refused to budge from her stand, saying that the time for an apology had passed and she would now pursue the case for the law to take its own course.

The police, while committing illegal acts like forcibly detaining or hitting someone, use section 353 of the IPC to threaten citizens into submission by preventing them from lodging a complaint against them or withdrawing it if already lodged. The section gives sweeping powers to a public servant (which includes policemen) to book a person for preventing them from carrying out their official acts. The worst part is that the police can beat you, but if you try to protect yourself, you will be booked under Sec. 353 for obstructing. In the present case, what is baffling is the effort of the top brass to shield the sergeant. He behaved in a highhanded manner and misused his powers. He should be punished as per law. That would give Kolkata Police a lot of brownie points and lift their image. If the sergeant is protected it will signal what he did was not wrong and others will also start treating citizens in the same manner.

image for representation purpose only. courtesy: slideshare