Brutality in police stations will stop once functional CCTV cameras are installed, especially inside the cells, the Kerala High Court said today.
The court’s observation came as it heard a man’s plea alleging that he was chained to a railing and then charged for “obstructing an officer from discharging his duties” when he sought a receipt for a complaint made by him.
“Are you (police) not ashamed to say that a man came inside the police station and used force to obstruct an officer from discharging his duties?” the court said.
“Very unfortunate that a citizen who came to make a complaint was chained to the railing and then slapped with the offence under section 117 (e) of the Kerala Police Act for obstructing a police officer from discharging his duties,” Justice Devan Ramachandran said.
This conduct is of the kind which occurred in 18th-century dungeons and not of the 21st century, the court said.
Despite the court coming down heavily on the police, “instances of police brutality are still being reported”, the judge said.
The court further said that police stations should not be allowed to function in this manner and that “this brutality will stop only when we have functional CCTV cameras there”.
The judge, during the hearing, said what was cause for concern was that the police are now waiting to “retrieve” CCTV footage of the incident which occurred in February this year to find out the truth behind the complainant’s claims, even though the video was not available in May as per a report submitted by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) in October.
The DySP had said so in his report after carrying out an internal inquiry into the allegations made by the complainant against two police officers, one of them a Station House Officer (SHO).
In a memo filed by the police, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) south zone has said that the CCTV footage of the incident has to be retrieved and perused before deciding whether to drop the case lodged against the complainant under section 117 (e) of the Kerala Police Act.
“This statement is of some concern. Had the footage been available when the DySP made inquiries, as stated in an affidavit filed on October 22, 2021, the entire incident would have come out in the open.
“The DySP had said that there was no CCTV footage. So I do not know how the IGP proposes to retrieve the footage or where the police are going to search for it,” the judge said.
The court has listed the matter for hearing in January next year and directed the police to file an affidavit on why the complainant should not be compensated under the public law remedy for the trauma and harassment suffered by him.