‘Insensitive’ government officials need regular flogging: apex court

August 8th, 2008 - 7:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Describing government officials as “insensitive to the suffering of people”, the Supreme Court Friday said they “need regular huntering (flogging)” to make them work. The remark was made by the second senior-most judge of the apex court, Justice B.N. Agrawal, who had abandoned on Thursday hearing of a graft case against the judiciary when he termed senior counsel Shanti Bhushan’s “contemptuous” allegations against the apex court as those of a “street urchin”.

On Friday, Justice Agrawal lost his cool over the failure of the union and all but two state governments to respond to his bench’s July 14 suggestion for corrective measures to deal with the callous approach of police in filing criminal cases on the complaints of common people.

“Government officials are simply insensitive to the suffering of millions of people across the country. They think they live in ‘Ram Rajya’ (ideal rule). They think it’s their ’swarajya’ (own self-rule, not for the people),” remarked Justice Agrawal’s bench, that also included Justice G.S. Singhvi.

“This is your style of functioning. You need regular ‘huntering’ (flogging - by the court to be made to work),” said the bench.

Barring Uttar Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, none of the states or union territories had filed their responses to the July 14 suggestion.

The bench had suggested that if the police fail to file a criminal case, then the citizen may approach the nearest judicial magistrate, who could direct police to register a First Information Report (FIR).

After this, if the police still fail to register an FIR without any proper reason, the magistrate would be justified in launching contempt to court proceedings against the erring police officer and send him to jail for defying court orders.

The bench had come up with the suggestions while hearing a lawsuit by Ghaziabad resident, Lalita Kumari, who had to run from pillar to post for registering an FIR after her teenaged daughter was abducted early this year.

After registering an FIR on the orders of the Ghaziabad superintendent of police on May 11, the local police did not try to search for her daughter and instead threatened her to withdraw the FIR.

Moved by the woman’s plight, Justice Agrawal in his July 14 order had noted his “personal experience” while working as the judge of the Patna High Court, the chief justice of Orissa High Court and as judge of the apex court - that despite the Supreme Court’s strict instruction for prompt registration of FIRs, “the concerned police authorities do not register FIRs unless some direction is given by the Chief Judicial Magistrate or the high court or this court”.

“Further experience shows that even after orders are passed by the concerned courts for registration of the case, the police does not take the necessary steps. And when matters are brought to the notice of the inspecting judges of the high court during the course of inspection of courts and superintendents of police are taken to task, then only FIRs are registered,” Justice Agrawal had noted.

“In a large number of cases, investigations do not commence even after registration of FIRs, and in cases like the present one steps are not taken for recovery of the kidnapped person or apprehending the accused person,” Justice Agrawal had said.

The bench Friday ordered the chief secretaries and the police chiefs of all states and union territories to file their responses to the court’s July 14 suggestion within two weeks failing which all of them would be personally summoned to the court and taken to task.

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