The Supreme Court today came down heavily on states which have not filed their responses to separate petitions seeking implementation of police reforms and recent police excesses in Bihar and Punjab.
"We normally do not summon officers. The governments think that they can play with the court's orders. They must respond to what courts have asked them to respond," a bench of justices GS Singvi and Kurian Joseph said.
"Sorry for the inconvenience. We will take up the matter for hearing on day-after-tomorrow," Justice Singhvi said and asked the states, which have so far not responded, to file their affidavits by tomorrow evening after supplying advance copies to Attorney General (AG) G E Vahanvati, senior advocate Harish Salve and others.
"Those states/officers, who have not filed the affidavits, should understand that they have to file them by tomorrow evening or the court may have to summon senior officers to assist the court," the bench said after the AG said only eight states have so far filed their replies.
The court had earlier taken suo-motu cognisance of news reports on separate incidents in which a woman was beaten up in Punjab and some ladies teachers were assaulted in Patna during an agitation.
It had issued notices to the Centre and states saying the beating up of innocent and unarmed people was "animal behaviour".
During the hearing, the Attorney General, who along with Salve and others, is assisting the court, said the affidavit filed by the Bihar DGP is "conspicuously" silent over the assault on women teachers who were sitting inside a tent.
"It is just merciless. One can understand the use of force if there is unlawful assembly. But here teachers have been beaten up mercilessly when they were sitting in a tent," the court said.
There is no explanation why women were beaten up, the court said and criticised the practise of justifying such incidents to the media by the officers concerned.
"The moment such wrong is committed, some police officers go on TV and try to justify the police action," it said adding that even after 66 years of independence, "the helpless and ladies" are being beaten up.
"The ailment starts at the grassroot level. At the recruitment level, there is extraneous considerations," the court said.
The court fixed the matter for hearing on April 3.
Earlier, the court had slammed Bihar and Punjab governments for recent incidents of police excesses and issued notices to the chief secretaries, the home secretaries and the DGPs of all states and police commissioners of UTs on implementation of its earlier directions in the Prakash Singh case on police reforms.
It had also asked the DGPs of Bihar and Punjab to file personal affidavits giving explanations for the incidents. The SP of Patna and the SSP of Tarn Taran (Punjab) districts were also directed to file the affidavit.
"How can police act in such a manner? How can a woman be treated in this way? There must be some norms for police to handle such situations," the bench had said, adding "time has come to undertake some exercise to stop such incidents and some concrete action must be taken by the state.
On March 4, the girl was thrashed by police constables when she had approached them along with her father for lodging a complaint against harassment by a truck driver and his accomplices in Tarn Taran district.
In the other incident, Bihar Police personnel had on March 5 resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells during a protest by contractual teachers outside the assembly in Patna demanding regularisation of their jobs and pay parity with regular teachers.