THE PUNJAB Police on Thursday informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the word “negro” in the investigation report of a drugs case was mentioned only because of binding nature of the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act for recording of the statement of the accused or witnesses. Meanwhile, the Punjab Police has prohibited the use of racist terms in any of the official records, including FIR, investigation report or any seizure memo.
While offering an apology in case the court comes to a conclusion that there was a lapse on part of the authorities, the police said the investigating officer had no intention to use the word, and assured the court that it will comply with any directions which the court would pass.
Justice Rajiv Narain Raina in an order passed on June 12 had rapped the police for use of the “unprintable word” in challan of a drugs case from Jalandhar and asked the state DGP to issue instructions against use of such words in any case files related to investigation. The Indian Express, while quoting the lawyer of the accused whose case the court was hearing that day, had reported that the term was mentioned in the disclosure statement of an accused in the case.
The police in its reply on Thursday said the use of the “offensive word” was purely unintentional and it was mentioned in the report due to “good-faith” reproduction of the disclosure statement of the accused. “During interrogation of the accused, Amarjit Singh/petitioner made a disclosure statement u/s 27 Evidence Act to the effect that he along with William alias Billu … has brought 550 grams of heroin from Delhi from one ‘offensive word’…,” the reply states.
The court in its order on June 12 had also directed the police to never use the “unprintable word” in any police document and observed that no one has any business to use it and much less the police. In the reply filed in response to the order, the police have mostly refrained from mentioning the word ‘negro’ and written “offensive word” in double quotes in its place.
“It is respectfully submitted that the word ‘offensive word’ was neither used by/mentioned in police proceedings or other document that forms part of the police report by the complainant/SI Surinder Singh nor Investigating Officer/ASI Surjit Singh or any other police officials involved in the matter in hand on their own accord. A perusal of the police report … would reveal that the word ‘Negro’ cropped up in the matter in hand at the time of recording of the disclosure statement suffered by accused Amarjit Singh,” the police said in the reply.
According to the law, the police said, they cannot make any changes in the language or narrative of a statement being recorded during a criminal investigation. The police further in the reply said it has utmost respect for both the Indian nationals as well as foreigners and could not think of differentiating between them based on their country of origin or the skin colour or the physical features.
Meanwhile, the state DGP has issued instructions to all the field units to comply with the directions issued by the HC and not use any offensive or racist word in any of the official records. The DGP has also ordered that all the cops be sensitised in this regard. Following submission of the police, the HC on Thursday reserved its verdict in the case.
The state DGP in a circular has prohibited the police officials from use of word ‘nigro’ or ‘negro’ or any such racist term in any of the official records and directed that the instructions regarding the prohibition be made part of the training programme at Punjab Police Academy.
Any action of omission or commission on part of the police officials or officers in this regard would amount to misconduct under applicable disciplinary rules, as per the circular. The DGP has further ordered that any reference to to a foreign national in the records must be made with respect to their country of origin alone and has forbidden the use of any racial or racially coloured term in reference to any foreign national.