Police brutality during COVID-19 lockdown ‘only one side of the coin’, says Bombay HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday said “police brutality” during the lockdown is only one side of the coin, and noted that many citizens are not complying with restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“There are black sheep everywhere,” a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai observed while hearing a petition filed by advocate Firdause Irani, raising concerns on police brutality amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Irani’s counsel Gopal Sankarnarayan told the court on Monday that they have 13 videos showing police excesses on people while imposing the lockdown orders.

“Policemen are seen assaulting people with lathis or slapping them without first asking the reason why they are travelling,” he said. The high court, however, said there are two sides to the story.

“Police brutality is only one side of the coin. The truth is that there are many amongst us who do not care about the lockdown guidelines and do not comply with restrictions. There are black sheep everywhere,” the chief justice said.

Sankarnarayan argued that even if there are violators of lockdown restrictions, this does not give police the right to assault any person.

To this, the court said it cannot sit to decide in which case or situation the use of lathis, teargas or force may be required.

“Every case or situation cannot be painted with the same brush,” Chief Justice Datta said. The court said if people violate laws, then they have to be dealt with strong hands.

“Police has been given the task to safeguard interests of the general public. In such a situation, some policemen think just because they have a lathi they can use it, Chief Justice Datta said.

The bench directed the petitioner to submit his suggestions on how police should handle such violators. “We will then see if police can be asked to follow the suggestions, the court said, and posted the petition for further hearing on 21 September.”



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