The Supreme Court had also objected to the practice terming it ‘an affront to the person and dignity of the accused'.

Do not parade the accused in front of the media Hyd HC tells AP PoliceImage : PTI
news Court Friday, June 22, 2018 - 19:18

In a crucial move, the Hyderabad High Court (HC) has sought an explanation from the Director General of Police (DGP), Andhra Pradesh, on the practice of parading the accused in front of media.

The court observed this while hearing a petition on the alleged parading before media of a woman-accused from Chirala of Prakasam district in a theft case.

The petitioner had made the police authorities of Prakasam and Kurnool district as the respondents in the case. The petitioner had submitted several photographs of the scene to the bench.

A bench comprising of Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy and Justice G Shyam Prasad stated that the police does not have any authority to publish or telecast the photos of the accused. The judges also questioned the practice of parading the accused and directed the DGP to file an affidavit regarding the issue.

Inspite of ‘parading’ the accused becoming a convention, this direction by the HC has brought the discussion on the legality of the practice into the limelight.

Senior Advocate of Hyderabad HC, Yeggoni Jayaraju said that the observation by the court was fair.

He said, "Based on the Indian Constitution they (police) have no right or the authority to produce the accused in front of media. It amounts to violation of personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.”

Speaking to TNM, Professor and Human Rights Forum activist K Sudha said that though there is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the police may give information when there is pressure from the society, without violating any individuals' integrity or privacy.

While welcoming the HC’s gesture she said, "The accusation has to be proven in the court of law, the investigating authorities are not supposed to play to the gallery."

She further observed, "The entire premise of the criminal justice system is based on the benefit of doubt, a violation will result in damage to the justice system."

Questioning the ‘normalised’ model of presenting the accused in front of the media even before a trial takes place in the Magistrate Court, she said, "What if the accused is acquitted?”

“The practice will leave the burden of carrying the stigma even after proven innocent,” she added.

 In 2015 High Court had also expressed displeasure over this issue.

The judges were hearing a petition of alleged encounter killings of three persons by the State police who had produced the accused in front of media in December 2008. The accused were charged with attacking a woman student with acid and causing injuries.

Even in 2014, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by the then Chief Justice of India RM Lodha objected to the investigating agencies parading accused persons before the media terming it ‘an affront to the person and dignity of the accused who is presumed innocent until convicted of the crime.’

The bench had also directed the investigating authorities to refrain from press briefings as whatever they say would result in prejudice against the accused even before he was convicted.

 

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