Shillong, Sept 6: KHNAM has alleged misuse of section 171 in The Indian Penal Code by the police in the case of summoning HITO leaders for criticising the government.
In a statement, Thomas Passah, the working president of HITO said, “Whoever, not belonging to a certain class of public servants, wears any garb or carries any token resembling any garb or token used by that class of public servants, with the intention that it may be believed, or with the knowledge that it is likely to be believed, that he belongs to that class of public servants, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both”.
According to KHNAM, on September 2 , one person Neeraj Vikram Vishwakarma was arrested for wearing the uniform of the Indian Army with all the batch and ranks of the Army with the intention to portray himself as a members of the Armed Forces, it would be correct for such person to be tried under IPC 171 as per law.”However, we have seen that the HITO were wearing black cloths there was no batch/identity mark/or any resemblances to the uniform worn by the Public servant nor were the members of HITO trying to portray themselves as a public servant. The State Government have misused the IPC 171 maybe with intention to silence voices of the oppressed or of those who challenged the non performance of the government of the day.
IPC 34 clearly states that “acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.—When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone’
IPC 34 talks about a criminal act which has been committed and we have not heard of any criminal charges against the NGO which makes it totally illegal to charge the organisation under this IPC, he said.
Section 105 of Meghalaya Police Act 2010 sates that whoever, not being a member of the Police Service, wears, without obtaining permission from an officer authorized in this behalf by the state government by a general or special order, a police uniform or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the distinctive marks of that uniform, shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three months or fine of Rs. 5,000/- or both.
“It is very clear that the uniform worn by the NGO does not in any way resemble the uniform worn by the police personnel, We do not see batches, ranks or other marks which will make us believe that the uniform resembles to that of the police department, therefore here too section 105 of the Meghalaya Police Act 2010 have been mis used or misinterpreted”, he said.
What happened on September 4 when the roads were busy with commuters and vehicles is very unwanted. “Videos which have gone viral on social media have shown police personnel using abusive language and chasing and beating up people, some could have been just commuters caught in the incident. The worst we saw was the police throwing a tear gas granade inside a small tea stall when pregnant woman and customers were inside the shop”, the KHNAM leader said.
No police accountability commission
“This whole incident of 4th Sep 2023 brings us all to one important point and that since 2010 the State Government has violated the section 73(2) of the Meghalaya Police Act 2010. The above section clearly states that “The State Government shall, within three months of the coming into effect of this Act, establish a State-level Police Accountability Commission herein to be called as Accountability Commission, consisting of a Chairperson, members and such other staff as may be necessary, to inquire into public complaints supported by sworn statement against the police personnel for serious misconduct and perform such other functions as stipulated in this Chapter”. Why have the State Government not constituted the said commission which could have brought a sense of accountability in the minds of the Police authority while performing duty”, the KHNAM pointed out.
According to Passah, the Article 19 (1) (a) (b) and (c) of the Indian Constitution empowered citizens with rights to freedom of speech and expression, to assemble peaceably and without arms and to form associations or unions and the state government cannot take away this fundamental rights given by our constitution.
“We demand that the State Government immediately constitute the Accountability Commission as provided under Section 73(2) of the Meghalaya Police Act 2010 for the safety and welfare of the general public at large”.