Former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur said on Tuesday that the judiciary must be on guard to ensure that the police do not go over the head in an investigation and see that there is a fair investigation. His remark comes amid national outrage over police atrocities.
He also said the law was being misused with sedition cases brought against journalists and warned that judges should not “blindly trust” the prosecution.
Judge (Retd) Lokur stated that laws are misinterpreted, both at the investigation stage and in the laying of charge sheets, but the judiciary must be very vigilant and not just rely solely on on lawsuits.
“It is important that the judiciary is on guard; to see that the police do not exceed their authority. They should examine the FIR, the case journal, find out what is going on and then proceed,” said the judge. Lokur.
He was speaking at a webinar titled “Shooting the Messenger:” The Deterrent Effect “of Criminalizing Journalism”, hosted by a legal news portal.
Referring to the Tuticorin incident, where a man and his son died after allegedly being beaten by the police last week, Judge Lokur said that initially the police said that he had a heart condition and that it has now emerged that some evidence has been removed.
The magistrate cannot blindly trust the prosecution and there must be a clear-minded application, said Justice Lokur.
“With these events, it is difficult to trust the police and the investigation they are conducting,” he said.
Speaking about complaints against journalists, Justice Lokur said that in this context, a journalist can never trust the fairness of an investigation.
“Then there is an abuse of the law. There are examples where there is no question of sedition, but the investigations reveal that it is a seditious act,” he said.
“Take for example the law on illegal activities (prevention). Just because there is mention of illegal activities does not mean that the magistrate or judge should raise their hands,” said judge Lokur, adding that a prima facie case must be made.
On the issue of the urgent cases decision by the district court, he said it had been known for a very long time.
“Bail applications are urgent matters, the demolition of property is an urgent matter. There is a broad category of cases which can be classified as urgent. This question of what is urgent and what is not is not is totally out of place.
“Some courts say that bail issues are not urgent defies logic. Personal freedom is always urgent. A court cannot say that it will come back after a few weeks and you should stay in jail for a while, “said the judge. Said Lokur.
Regarding the attack on citizen journalism during the coronavirus pandemic, he said that if the facts are shown, then what is the problem.
“If it is a fact, even if it is uncomfortable, why should it not be reported? The goal is to make things better. If hospitals are not functioning and this report is factually correct, why should it not be reported? ,” he said.