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Carrying I-cards won’t really help, say experts

Legal experts say the order does not really strengthen the existing policing procedure any further, reports Ravi Bajpai.

delhi Updated: Jan 07, 2008 02:25 IST
Ravi Bajpai
Ravi Bajpai
Hindustan Times

Will the government's decision making it mandatory for all Delhittes to carry a photo identity card wherever they go pass the legal test?

While the jury is still not out on that, legal experts say within the existing legal framework, the order does not really strengthen the existing policing procedure any further. In fact, any ‘adventurous’ departure from the present norm may just go against the law.

Simply put, the Lieutenant Governor’s order means Delhiites who don't have any photo identity document on them can be stopped for police checks anytime, anywhere. Well, that's pretty much what the police is already empowered to do, said former IPS officer Amod Kanth.

“The police already have the right to ask for people's identity proofs. The thing to see in the new order is whether it empowers the police to take any action against those not carrying identity proofs, which I doubt it does,” Kanth added.

Legally speaking, stopping people and checking their identity is perfectly viable, but what if the person in question does not have any such document? Can the police charge him, or take him to the police station, or produce him in front of a magistrate?

Advocate Kamini Jaiswal said taking a person to the police station or detaining him on this ground would amount to illegal confinement.

“It’s a gross violation of the Right to Freedom of Movement under the Constitution. It’s absurd. It may lead to drastic consequences and the common man would not feel safe anywhere,” she said.

After the Lieutenant Governor's direction, the police have desperately sought to clarify that people would not be harassed unnecessarily. Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said, “There is no case of apprehension. It is not whenever a policeman sees a man, he would ask for an identity card. Only suspicious people would be asked for the identity card.”

L-G Tejendra Khanna had announced the new norm on Friday, saying the move would ensure that terrorists or anti-social elements don't sneak into the city. “Delhi is very sensitive from law and order point of view, being the national capital,” he said.