Supreme Court’s ruling on arbitrary arrest

Supreme Court’s ruling on arbitrary arrest

We welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict to uphold High Court directives to stop police forces from making arbitrary arrests on suspicion and torturing arrestees while in remand. This has happened after 13 long years since the HC gave the directives. But though late in coming, the SC’s move will no doubt give hope to the people of this country that arbitrary arrests, torture and death in custody will become aberrations of the past.

The directives include, among other things, barring law enforcers from arresting any person under the Special Powers Act after picking him/her up on suspicion and declaring sections 54 and 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to be inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. They also would make the procedure of arrest and interrogation more transparent, lessen the scope of abuse of power and ensure due process to individuals being apprehended.

For far too long, ordinary citizens have had to bear in silence abuses committed by security forces. Individuals have been picked up at the dead of night by plainclothes policemen, taken into custody and later returned to their families grievously wounded, traumatised or dead. These gross human rights abuses have been tolerated and ignored, thus encouraging further abuse of power.

The government should not take the SC’s decision as a defeat but rather embrace it as a move away from draconian practices of colonial rule and enforce it with vigour. These directives uphold the values of our Liberation War to free our people from the clutches of injustice. This is, therefore, a victory of good governance, justice and democracy. Surely that is what our government should stand for.

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