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Report No. 177

1.9 Balancing of societal interests and protection of rights of the accused.-

We are not unaware that crime rate is going up in our country for various reasons which need not be recounted here. Terrorism, drugs and organized crime have become so acute that special measures have become necessary to fight them not only at the national level but also at the international level. We also take note of the fact that quite a number of policemen risk their lives in discharge of their duties and that they are specially targeted by the criminal and terrorist gangs.

We recognize that in certain situations e.g., like the one obtaining in Kashmir today, a literal compliance with several legal and constitutional safeguards may not be practicable but we must also take note of and provide for the generality of the situation all over the country and not be deflected by certain specific, temporary situations. We must also take note of the fact that very often it is the poor who suffer most at the hands of Police. Their poverty itself makes them suspects.

This was said, though from a different angle, by George Bernard Shaw. He said "poverty is crime". But nowadays, even middle classes and other well-to-do people, who do not have access to political power-wielders, also are becoming targets of Police excesses. We recognize that ensuring a balance between societal interest in peace and protection of the rights of the accused is a difficult one but it has to be done. We also recognize the fundamental significance of the Human Rights, which are implicit in Part III of our Constitution and of the necessity to preserve, protect and promote the Rule of Law which constitutes the bedrock of our constitutional system.

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