The Punjab & Haryana HC took stern measures for the use of a racial slur. This was in particular with a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS) case. Justice Rajiv Narain Raina observed the use of a racial slur to refer to an African National. The case was Amarjit Singh Vs. State of Punjab, 2014.
Brief Facts of the Case
Racism has existed throughout Indian History. It is an ideology that humans segregation is on the basis of their skin colour, caste, language or place of birth. Racism has influenced slavery, wars, the formation of nations, etc. The most iconic example of racism in the 20th century in the world is the death of George Floyd. This incident has raised many questions on humanity. Many cities across the world had observed protest after the death of a 46-year-old black man. The hashtag “BlackLivesMatter” came in highlights throughout this protest. Being moved by this incident many steps across the world to show respect to the black community happened. The present order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court is also on the same lines.
A highly offensive word “Nigro” got used in one of the challan papers to refer to an African National. These papers were presented in an NDPS case presented lodged under Section 173 Cr.P.C.
Here, Justice Rajiv Narain Raina had presided over this matter.
Words “nigro” & “negro” are offensive to the black community. “They deserve the dignity and respect in a foreign land as visitors or students in India from Africa temporarily living in our country, which prides itself of many peoples of all colours of the skin ranging from white to black and aboriginal.”
The Court said that India itself is a land with people of all different colours. From brown to black and white all shades of people should get dignity and respect. The Court further emphasised that an investigation should be non-aggressive in the search for truth and commission of cognizable offences. It is socially unacceptable. The Court strictly warned the officials to never address anyone by that description or write about it in the official papers of permanent State record.
“All Africans are our friends and when they come to India either as visitors or students they are our valuable guests and we should not forget that India is rich in its traditions of “mehman nawazi” & “attithi sanskar/satkar” and prides itself on this. They should simply identify by the country of their origin in case papers.”
Justice Raina has observed that the police has set a mentality that every black is a drug peddler and treats them harshly. He has observed that such an approach on behalf of the state authorities brings shame to the country. While delivering the judgement he has recalled the leader of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
“Mahatma Gandhi was politically nurtured in South Africa for two decades pioneering the apartheid movement and fighting against colour discrimination and for freedom against black laws as he did for ours in different ways in the freedom struggle, and he counted many friends from amongst those people. Let us follow that inspiring precept and pay due respect to each other and other people.”
The Court in the present case has directed the following things:
1) Investigating officer to produce recovery memo and all other prima facie evidence collected by him, on the next date of hearing.
2) Never to use the unprintable word in any police document including in challans or anywhere else on case papers including in investigation reports.
3) The Director-General of Police, Punjab is to consider the entire issue and notify instructions in this regard to the police force calling upon them never to use the offensive term “nigro” or “negro” while referring to “black” persons in case papers.
4) The investigating officers and the police officials that record FIRs need immediate sensitization and warning on the issue by ensuring that no person faces bias based upon the colour of his/her skin.
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