Nobody safe if bulldozer action permitted: Gauhati high court | India News – Times of India


GUWAHATI: The Gauhati high court has demolished the Assam authorities’ contentions on using bulldozers in the name of investigations, expressing concern over the practice and observing “nobody is safe in this country if this kind of action is permitted”.
A bench of Chief Justice RM Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia during a recent hearing took suo motu cognisance of Assam police’s razing of houses of six suspects accused of torching a police station in Nagaon district last May following an alleged custodial death. “You (the state) show us from any criminal jurisprudence that for investigating a crime, the police without any order, can uproot a person and apply a bulldozer?” Justice Chhaya asked the state counsel who had submitted a report by the Nagaon SP on the action.
Pointing to the report, Justice Chhaya observed: “He may be an SP but even your higher-ups need to pass through the gamut of law. Only because they are head of the police department, they cannot break anyone’s house. Nobody is safe in this country if this kind of action is permitted.”
The bench sought to know if any prior permission was sought for the action, to which the state counsel replied that it was for a search of the houses. Justice Chhaya expressed shock: “This (action) is unheard of, at least with my limited career. I have not come across a police officer using bulldozer by way of a search warrant.”
“Even if a very serious matter is being investigated by an agency, bulldozing of a house is not provided under any criminal law,” Justice Chhaya added. The Batadrava police station in Nagoan was set ablaze on May 21 following the alleged custodial death of Safikul Islam, a local fish trader. A day later, six houses were demolished, including Islam’s, by using bulldozers in search of alleged weapons and drugs hidden beneath the structures.
Emphasising that even searching a house requires permission, Justice Chhaya said: “Tomorrow, if you need something, you will dig up my courtroom.” The chief justice said nobody will be safe if pulling down anyone’s house is permitted in the name of an investigation. “We are in a democratic set-up,” he added.
The chief justice equated the bulldozing of the houses to an act in a “gang war” and asked the home department to find better ways of carrying out investigations. “There is a purpose why ‘law and order’ words are used together. This is not the manner in which law and order is controlled,” Justice Chhaya observed. The matter will be heard next on December 13.





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