MP High Court comes to the rescue of the accused
Issue 22 | November 22, 2020
The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in a recent judgment, has held that disclosure of personal information of suspects to the media (of any form), displaying images in newspapers or social media, violates their rights given under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The judgment comes after a petition was filed by a wrongly-accused individual earlier this year. On August 14 of this year, the MP Police took the petitioner into custody and got his fully-exposed face photographed and published in newspapers and social media as a “criminal”.
Further developments and proceeding in the matter brought forth that the accused was in no way related to the crime and had been wrongfully detained due to mistaken identity. And so, the detained was acquitted and released.
The police officer who had arrested the petitioner was apparently placed under suspension, but it later came to light that the officer’s suspension was revoked.
Unhappy with the same, the petitioner filed a plea before the HC and questioned the circulation and publication of his photographs. The State (in its defense) submitted a circular issued by the Director-General of Police in 2014. The circular permitted the sharing of information of an accused subject to certain restrictions.
The court observed that the circular was contradictory in itself and said, “on one hand, it speaks about protecting the fundamental rights of an accused, but on the other hand, it gives liberty to the policemen to violate the fundamental rights of the suspects/accused”. After sincerely looking into the matter and considering numerous court decisions on the topic, the court held that the privacy, reputation, and dignity of an Indian citizen are integral parts of Article 21 of the Constitution, and the rights cannot be violated or undermined unless restrictions are imposed by the authority of law.
1. Kerala brings ordinance making cyber defamation/intimidation offences punishable with imprisonment upto 5 years.
2. The CJI, while expressing his disinclination towards entertaining writ petitions under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, said, “We are trying to cut down the Article 32 jurisdiction.”
3. The Supreme Court has expressed its displeasure over the counter-affidavit filed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in response to a batch of petitions seeking action against the media outlets. The media had indulged in the communal propaganda in light of the Tablighi Jamaat members contracting and spreading COVID-19.
4. The Supreme Court has asked the petitioner challenging the levy of GST on hand sanitizers under the same tariff heading as insecticides, etc., to approach the High Court.