Personal liberty is definitely urgent, Justice Lokur said (File)
Former Supreme Court Judge Madan B Lokur said on Tuesday that judiciary needs to be on guard to make sure that the police will not exceed authority within an investigation and see there exists a fair probe. His remark comes amid country-wide outrage over police atrocities.
He also said law has been misused with cases of sedition being filed against journalists and cautioned that magistrates shouldn’t “blindly trust” the prosecution.
Justice (Retd) Lokur said laws are misinterpreted, both at the stage of investigation and the filing of chargesheets however the judiciary needs to be extra vigilant rather than go merely based on the prosecution.
“It is important for the judiciary to be on guard; to note that the police isn’t exceeding its authority. They ought to examine the FIR, the full case diary, discover what is being conducted and proceed,” Justice Lokur said.
He was speaking at a webinar — “Shooting the Messenger: The ‘Chilling Effect’ of Criminalising Journalism”, organised by way of a legal news portal.
Discussing the Tuticorin incident, week in which a man and his son died after being allegedly thrashed by the authorities last, Justice Lokur initially said that, the authorities said they had a heart condition and today it has turn out that some evidence was deleted.
The magistrate cannot blindly trust the prosecution and there needs to be an obvious application of mind, Justice Lokur said.
“With one of these things happening, it’s difficult to trust the authorities and the investigation being completed by them,” he said.
Talking about cases being filed against journalists, Justice Lokur said that in this backdrop, a journalist is never likely to have the ability to trust the fairness of a study.
“Then, there’s misuse of law. You can find examples where there is absolutely no question of sedition, however the investigations find out that there surely is a seditious act involved,” he said.
“Take for instance Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Because there’s the reference to unlawful activities, it generally does not imply that the Magistrate or the Judge should provide his hands,” Justice Lokur said, adding a prima facie case needs to be made out.
On the problem of deciding urgent matters by the very best court, he said that has been known for a long time.
“Bail applications are urgent matters, demolition of property can be an urgent matter. There are always a large group of cases which may be categorised as urgent. This plain thing in what is urgent and what’s not urgent is totally misplaced.
“For a few courts to state that bail matters aren’t urgent defies logic. Personal liberty is definitely urgent. A court cannot say that they can go on it up following a little while and you ought to loaf around in jail for some time,” Justice Lokur said.
Pertaining to the attack on citizen journalism through the coronavirus pandemic, he said that when fact is shown then what’s the problem.
“Whether it’s a fact, even though it’s uncomfortable, why should it not be reported? The reason would be to improve things. If the hospitals aren’t working, and that report is correct factually, why should it not be reported ? It’s limited to improvement,” he said.
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