38.6c New Delhi, India, Monday, July 22, 2024
Judiciary

SC directs States/UTs to revisit policy regime on 'History Sheet' [Read Judgment]

By Jhanak Singh      08 May, 2024 12:22 PM      0 Comments
SC directs States UTs to revisit policy regime on History Sheet

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered all the States and Union Territories to revisit their policy-regime with regard to 'history sheets' maintained by the police against proposed 'bad characters', to protect self respect and privacy of minors and other family members.

A bench of Justices Surya Kant and K V Vishwanathan pointed out the value for human dignity and life is deeply embedded in Article 21 of our Constitution.

"The expression life unequivocally includes the right to live a life worthy of human honour and all that goes along with it. Self-regard, social image and an honest space for oneself in ones surrounding society, are just as significant to a dignified life as are adequate food, clothing and shelter," the bench said.

The court directed the States and Union Territories to consider whether suitable amendments on the pattern of the Delhi Model could be made to protect that the dignity, self-respect and privacy of the innocent people.

Exercising its suo motu powers, the bench expanded the scope of its proceedings arising out of a plea by Delhi AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan against the Delhi High Court's order of January 19, 2023 which dismissed his petition for quashing of the history sheet opened against him and the proposal to declare him as bad character.

"The police authorities in other States and Union Territories may also consider the desirability of ensuring that no mechanical entries in history sheet are made of innocent individuals, simply because they happen to hail from the socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, along with those belonging to Backward Communities, Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes," the bench said.

Citing some studies available in the public domain, the bench said, those revealed a pattern of an unfair, prejudicial and atrocious mindset.

The police diaries were maintained selectively of individuals belonging to Vimukta Jatis, based solely on caste-bias, a somewhat similar manner as happened in colonial times, the bench noted.

In case of the petitioner, Delhi police carried out amendment in the standing order and the archaic format which previously had "disturbing contents" of the history sheet to the extent it pertained to the school going minor children of the appellant and his wife, against whom there was apparently no adverse material whatsoever for inclusion.

The court opined a periodic audit mechanism would serve as a critical tool to review and scrutinise the entries made, so as to ascertain that these are devoid of any biases or discriminatory practices.

The effective implementation of audits can secure the elimination of such deprecated practices and kindle the legitimate hope that the right to live with human dignity, as guaranteed under Article 21, is well protected, the court said.

"All the state governments are therefore expected to take necessary preventive measures to safeguard such communities from being subjected to inexcusable targeting or prejudicial treatment. We must bear in mind that these pre-conceived notions often render them invisible victims due to prevailing stereotypes associated with their communities, which may often impede their right to live a life with self-respect," the bench said.

In case of the petitioner, Delhi police admitted the history sheet was only an internal police document and it should not be brought in public domain.

The court also noted amended provision also mandated that Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 would be meticulously followed, whereunder there is a prohibition on disclosing the identity of a child in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection or a child victim or a witness of a crime through a report etc.

[Read Judgment]



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