The Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered the Uttar Pradesh police chief to forthwith dispense with the practice of displaying a rogue list of the alleged top 10 criminals at various police stations in the state. A bench of justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal gave the order to the UP director general of police, describing the practice as a breach of an individual’s right to life and life with dignity as also the right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The bench, however, said that the privilege will not be available to accused persons, declared proclaimed offenders and fugitives in law” by a competent court under section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The court also said there is no harm in the police preparing and maintaining a confidential list of people of alleged criminal antecedents in the police station, but displaying such a list publicly would be violative of the Article 21.
“It is neither socially nor politically desirable to curtail human dignity, which is infringed when names of accused persons are displayed on the flysheet boards of the police station concerned or anywhere else without there being any proclamation issued against them under section 82 of CrPC, the bench ruled. This practice of putting the names on the flysheet board is derogatory to the concept of human dignity and privacy,” it added.
The court delivered its ruling on pleas by three state natives Balveer Singh Yadav, Doodh Nath Yadav and Jeeshan alias Jaanu, challenging a UP police chief circular of last July directing the police stations to maintain a list of the top ten alleged criminals under their jurisdiction for the purpose of their surveillance. The circular had led to the practice of some police stations, especially those of the Allahabad and Kanpur districts, displaying the names of such top ten criminals on a board in the police station premises.
While asking the police chief to discard the practice, the court did not invalidate the DGP’s July 2020 circular itself, saying that no illegality could be attached to it. The court also asked its registry to dispatch a copy of its judgement to the state police chief for its swift compliance.