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CJI for forming special panels led by HC CJs to probe plaints against ‘atrocities’ by police, bureaucracy

Court makes observation when reserving order on pleas filed by suspended ADGP Gurjinder Pal Singh in Chhattisgarh

Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana said he was in favour of forming standing committees headed by the Chief Justices of the High Courts to investigate complaints received from the common man of “atrocities” committed by the bureaucracy, especially police officers, in the country.

The CJI’s oral observation comes even as police officers are in the spotlight for committing serious crimes. Recently, the police officers in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh have been accused of causing the death of a businessman during a raid in a hotel.

In Tamil Nadu, the CBI had charge-sheeted nine policemen for the custodial deaths of the father-son duo, P. Jayaraj and J. Benicks. There have been instances in which district administration officers were recorded on video physically manhandling citizens during the lockdown.

“We are very disturbed by what the bureaucracy, particularly police officers, are doing… I was in favour of forming standing committees led by Chief Justices of High Courts to look into complaints of atrocities committed by bureaucrats, especially police officers, in this country,” Chief Justice Ramana said in court.

The observation came when the court was reserving judgment on petitions filed by suspended Additional Director General of Police Gurjinder Pal Singh in Chhattisgarh. He had sought protection from arrest in various criminal cases, including sedition, extortion and criminal intimidation, arraigned against him by the current government.

The court recently made oral observations in the case about how police officers act with impunity with one government but have to “pay back with interest” when there is a regime change. It had, in an earlier instance, wondered at the plight of police officers caught between rival political parties who come to power one after the other.

‘Targets of political vendetta’

The Bench had highlighted how police officers become targets of political vendetta, stating that it was a “sad state of affairs”. The CJI said orally, “When a political party is in power, police officers side with a particular party. Then when a new party comes into power, the government initiates action against those officials”.

The court stated that this new trend needed to be checked in its tracks.

The court had granted Mr. Singh protection from arrest in the sedition case. Senior lawyers F.S. Nariman and Vikas Singh appeared for him and the State government was represented by senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Rakesh Dwivedi.

Cases of sedition and other offences were lodged against Mr. Singh by the Congress-led Chhattisgarh government.

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