Supreme Court. (HT archive)
Supreme Court. (HT archive)

Corona fears: Delhi Police move SC to handcuff accused instead of holding hands

The application cites the previous directions issued by the top court in a spate of judgments, starting 1980, against handcuffing of the accused persons as a matter of protection of human rights of citizens as against actions by the police
PUBLISHED ON APR 23, 2021 12:17 PM IST

The Delhi Police have approached the Supreme Court, requesting it to let policemen handcuff the arrested persons and undertrials in order to minimise the exposure to Covid-19 due to holding of hands.

The application cites the previous directions issued by the top court in a spate of judgments, starting 1980, against handcuffing of the accused persons as a matter of protection of human rights of citizens as against actions by the police.

At the same time, the Supreme Court has said that the police or jail authorities can seek permission for the same if there were certain extraordinary reasons, including the fact that accused or undertrials were “high-risk prisoners”.

Seeking a relaxation of the directions issued by it, the Delhi Police plea has been moved in a pending suo motu (on its own) matter on management of Covid-19 that was registered last year by the apex court, and cites the crisis triggered by the second Covid-19 wave.

An urgent listing application has been filed by the Delhi Police in the Supreme Court requesting it to relax the directions issued by the apex court prohibiting handcuffing of arrested persons and other undertrial prisoners till the time the pandemic subsides so as to ensure safe transit while they are being escorted.

Also Read | ‘National emergency’: SC calls crisis triggered by 2nd Covid-19 wave

The application, filed earlier this week, has stated that the transit of undertrial prisoners between jail and courts as also transit of accused persons by holding their hands will expose both the prisoner as well as the police to the Covid-19 virus. Since it would also be difficult to ensure social distancing, the police contended, it would increase the possibility of infection.

“Even if the police personnel wear gloves, it will not give sufficient grip to hold the prisoner/accused, even in that event they have to move in close proximity and cannot ensure social distancing norms. Therefore, if they are handcuffed, the police personnel escorting them can hold them from a distance, thereby ensuring safe distancing,” added the plea.

Pointing out that several Delhi Police personnel have already lost their lives due to coronavirus and this also put their families at risk, the application said, “this Hon’ble Court may consider balancing the right to dignity of the undertrial prisoner/accused and the life and safety of both prisoner/accused and police personnel who accompany them during transit between jail/police station to courts and help reducing the risk of infection from spreading.”

The top court is yet to fix a date for hearing this plea.

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