Publication of Names of Alleged Criminal on Flysheet Board of Police Station Violates Right to Privacy and Human Dignity: Allahabad HC

On Friday, the Allahabad High Court held that publication of names/photos of so called criminals/accused persons on the flysheet board of the concerned police station is violative of right to privacy and human dignity as protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Allahabad High Court framed following questions for its consideration:

(i)Whether policy/circular is ultra vires of the provisions contained in Constitution of India especially Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, Police Act, 1861 or U.P. Police Regulations?

(ii) Whether the policy/circular grants right to the police authories to publish names of so called criminals/accused persons on the flysheet board of the concerned police station ? and

(iii) Whether publication of names of such accused persons violates the right to privacy and dignity?

A Division Bench of Hon’ble Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Hon’ble Justice Vivek Agarwal upholding the validity of the policy/circular dated 06.07.2020 held that policy per se does not appear to suffer from vice of ultra vires, because the aim and object of the policy is to keep the police updated of the activities of the criminals with a view to keep a better control on law and order situation.

On the Second question, the Bench observed:

there is no provision in the circular or police regulations, police act or Cr.P.C  to publish list of identified top 10 criminals and mafia elements either on the flysheet board of the concerned police station in public domain or anywhere else, the action of the authorities of the State in publishing such names will fall within the case of substantive ultra vires, as the action of the functionaries of the State is beyond the powers and authority conferred on them by the Constitution or the Statute and their act is even beyond the limits and powers transcribed by the circular from which respondent State functionaries claim to draw their authority to make such publication.

On the third question, the Bench held:

it is apparent that neither socially nor politically it is desirable to curtail human dignity, which is infringed when names of accused persons are displayed on the flysheet board of the police station concerned or anywhere else without there being any proclamation issued against them under Section 82 Cr.P.C. Thus, this practice of putting the names on the flysheet board is derogatory to the concept of human dignity and privacy and therefore Reference Question No. iii is answered in affirmative that publication of names of accused persons violates their right to privacy and dignity.

In view of the above the Court has directed DGP UP to

forthwith remove the names/identities of Top-10 criminals along with their criminal antecedents from the flysheet board from all the police stations. He is also directed to ensure that a circular in the light of this judgment is sent to all the police heads of the districts so as to ensure strict compliance.

The Circular, so issued, shall provide that in case of violation both disciplinary and criminal action shall be taken against the erring police officers and compensation may also be granted.

However the benefit of this Judgment shall not be given to fugitives and proclaimed offenders.

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