Can't Turn Blind Eye To Police Harassment Under Guise Of Investigation: Madras High Court issues guidelines for police

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Court said that normally it would not interfere with the investigation conducted by a police officer, but it would not turn a blind eye towards the harassment. 

While observing that it will not turn a blind eye to instances of harassment by the police under the guise of investigation, the Madras High Court recently issued several guidelines to be followed by police for conducting the investigation in a case.

The bench of Justice Sathi Kumar Sukumara Kurup, to circumvent such harassment, ordered that any person required in the case as a witness or otherwise will be summoned by the police officer through a written summon specifying a particular date and time for appearing and the minutes of the enquiry shall be recorded in writing.

The order was passed in a plea by a woman who alleged that the police had been harassing her under the guise of enquiry in a criminal case.

While directing the police officers to refrain from harassing persons who will be summoned for the purpose of enquiry, court also asked the petitioner also to co-operate.

However, court ordered the police to make sure that the petitioner is not summoned at odd hours.

Court further emphasised that the guidelines stipulated for preliminary enquiry or registration of FIR by the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari Vs. Government of Uttar Pradesh and others [2014] shall be strictly adhered to by the police.

Apart from that, while passing the order, court highlighted that numerous petitions complaining of harassment were being reported and filed before the high court seeking for directions to refrain the police officials from harassing the persons named in a complaint.

Court stated that though an enquiry into a non cognizable offence or a cognizable offence is the unfettered powers of the Investigation Officers but it is so till the power to investigate/enquire into these offences are legitimately exercised within the frame work of Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Further, regarding the increase in petitions alleging police harassment, court opined that though the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the Magistrate to be a guardian in all the stages of the police investigation, there is no power envisaging him to interfere with the actual investigation or the mode of investigation.

Therefore, while stressing that normally it would not interfere with the investigation conducted by a police officer by exercising its power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, court underscored that sometimes what could be harassment to the petitioner may not be the same to the police officer.

Case Title: Rajini v The Superintendent of Police, Salem District and Another