The High Court of Bombay in Goa has barred the police from parading accused before the media after taking suo motu cognizance of a photograph in which a woman arrested for abandoning her newborn son is seen kneeling in front of police officers.
The court said on Tuesday that merely because people are accused of crimes, officers “derive no authority to bruise their dignity” and observed that the photograph looked like “erstwhile Maharajas or hunters posing with their trophy after a hunt”.
The order came after the court took cognizance of a photograph in a local daily on August 2019 where a woman is seen kneeling before Police Inspector Kapil Nayak and and Police Sub-Inspector Amin Naik, both attached to Mapusa Police station.
The division bench of Justices M S Sonak and Nutan Sardesai ruled that this amounted to “violation of the right to privacy and right to live with dignity, guaranteed to the accused mother under Article 21 of the Constitution”.
According to the order, the woman and her husband already had three children and abandoned their newborn son as they did not have the means to raise him. They were arrested when they were allegedly fleeing the state. “We also observed that the presumption of innocence, which is one of the cornerstones of our criminal jurisprudence, was compromised…” the order said.
Both the inspector and the sub inspector have been directed to pay Rs 30,000 and Rs 10,000 as compensation to the mother within four days.
“Merely because persons are accused of crimes, police officials derive no authority to bruise their dignity or run roughshod over their human rights or fundamental rights, which is precisely what the police officials have done in the present case,” the order states.