The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that producing suspects before the media is an infringement of their fundamental right under the Constitution.
“By producing the victims and suspects before the media, the police not only violate the fundamental rights of the suspect as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India but also encourage media trials,” Justice G.S. Ahluwalia noted while hearing a petition.
In this case, Arun Sharma vs State Of Madhya Pradesh, the petitioner was a tenant in a shop in Gwalior and the landlady complained to the police alleging that he was neither giving rent nor vacating the shop and was threatening to encroach upon her house too.
The police forcibly evicted the petitioner and took him into custody. Further, his photograph was published in the newspapers as well as he was projected as a hardcore criminal on social media. Later, a complaint was made to the superintendent of police (SP), Gwalior, after which an inquiry was conducted. It was found that the petitioner was an innocent person with no criminal antecedents. He was released as it was a case of mistaken identity. The police officer responsible for this fracas was suspended and the news of his suspension published in newspapers. However, the suspension was soon revoked and the officer was given another posting.
Accused persons have the right to have all their human rights when in prison and that includes Article 21 of the Constitution which provides that “no human shall be denied of his right to life and personal liberty except if established by law”. In addition, the right to privacy is a requisite of the right to life and personal liberty and was recognised by the Supreme Court in Justice KS Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union of India 2017.