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Press Release

Press Note of BEA over the police excesses against journalists of IBN7 in Lucknow

Press Statement : New Delhi: July 24, 2011

BEA Fact-finding Team concludes that the two police officers manhandled IBN-7reporters

UP Govt must ensure that officers do not exceed their brief to placate political masters

The four-member Fact-finding Team of the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) has, after conducting an enquiry into June 26, 2011 incident of manhandling of two IBN-7 reporters by the two officers of Lucknow Police, found that:

1. Mr. BP Ashok did not act in consonance with the role legally prescribed for him. Mr. Anoop Kumar (CO) was collusive and active partner in the wanton conduct. While a case under relevant sections of IPC has been registered against them and law will take its own course, the Government should ensure that in future they do not exert undue pressure to influence the investigation being carried out by the department they belonged to.

2. While criminal liability is subject to judicial process, the quasi-criminal, ethical and moral liabilities extend to the political executive. It will be in the interest of the Government that it also ensures that justice is done to the accuser.

3. The BEA also feels that the conduct of Secretary to Chief Minister, Mr. Navneet Sehgal, who acted swiftly getting the two erring police officers suspended and getting a case registered against them, met the requirement of established administrative norms. It is also noteworthy that the suspension orders served on the two officers clearly mentioned that “there was no reason for the officers to manhandle the journalists” and that “this conduct had lowered the prestige of the police department”.

Case in Brief

The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) received an information from Mr. Ashutosh, Managing Editor of IBN-7 that channel’s Lucknow Chief of Bureau (COB), Mr. Shalabh Mani Tripathi and his Junior colleague, Mr. Manoj Rajan Tripathi were beaten up and detained by the Lucknow SP City, Mr. BP Ashok , and Circle officer, Hazratganj Mr. Anoop Kumar at around 10.35 p.m on June 26, 2011. Mr. Ashutosh also informed the BEA that the channel had been airing stories regarding murder of Dr. Sachan in jail confines. These stories showed lapse on the part of the government and probable links of the “high and mighty” in this high-profile murder. Mr. Ashutosh was of the view that the stories against the government could be the immediate cause of hostility reflected through the wanton action of the two police officers.

( Two days before this incident Mr Ashutosh had also complained to the BEA that the channel had been taken off air as it was airing stories on Dr. Sachan episode. We decided to take up the issue next morning but by evening it was learnt that channel was back on the air ).

The Fact-finding team feels that the officer Mr. B P Ashok being responsible for Lucknow East had assumed a self-perceived role of serving the powers-that-be even out of parameters provided under the law of the land.

The four member Fact-finding Team comprised Broadcast Editor’s Association (BEA) General Secretary Mr. NK Singh beside Lucknow based senior journalist Mr Sharat Pradhan, NDTV Resident Editor Mr. Kamal Khan and STAR NEWS Bureau Chief Mr. Pankaj Jha.

Shazi Zaman, President

NK Singh, General Secretary
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Report of the Fact-finding team of the BEA


Terms of Reference

The culpability behind the incident of highhandedness alleged to have been carried out by two police officers against IBN-7 journalists in Lucknow on June 26, 2011; whether it was an isolated incident arising out of personal vendetta or a case of well-designed attempt of powers –that-be to intimidate the media into submission by taking recourse to targeting journalist(s) of one channel. The committee was also entrusted with the job of delving into the possibility of extended culpability up and down the ladder of politico-administrative structure.

Case in Brief

The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) received an information from Mr. Ashutosh, Managing Editor of IBN-7 that channel’s Lucknow Chief of Bureau (COB), Mr. Shalabh Mani Tripathi and his Junior colleague, Mr. Manoj Rajan Tripathi were beaten up and detained by the Lucknow SP City, Mr. BP Ashok, and Circle officer, Hazratganj Mr. Anoop Kumar at around 10.35 p.m. on June 26, 2011. Mr. Ashutosh also informed the BEA that the channel had been airing stories regarding murder of Dr. Sachan in jail confines and that these stories showed lapse on the part of the government and probable links of the “high and mighty” in the Government in this high-profile murder. Mr. Ashutosh was of the view that the stories against the government could be the immediate cause of hostility reflected through the wanton action of the two police officers.

( Two days before this incident Mr Ashutosh had also complained to the BEA that the channel had been taken off air as it was airing stories on Dr. Sachan episode. We decided to take up the issue next morning but by evening it was learnt that channel was back on the air ).

The BEA was also informed that as a consequence to illegal detention of the two journalists, hundreds of media men of the state capital belonging to the print and the electronic media gathered at the police station and marched towards CM House. Realising the gravity of the situation the top officers in the Government swung into action. The Secretary to CM, Mr. Navneet Sehgal, rushed towards the advancing protesters (journalists) after undertaking preliminary enquiry and assured them that the two officers would be suspended the following morning. He also ordered registering of a criminal case against the officers. As the assurances had come from the CM’s Secretary, the journalists took it on face value and subsequently dispersed. The following day government honored the assurances and held the two officers responsible for beating up and detaining the IBN-7 COB and the reporter “without any reason”.

The two officers were suspended and a case under section 323,342/504/506 of IPC was registered against them. The identical suspension orders against the two officers categorically asserted that the incident of assault on and misbehavior with journalist “without any reason” had lowered the prestige of the police department.

As prima facie it was a case of police highhandedness against journalists apart from being a case of violation of human rights and an assault on media, the BEA decided to form a four-member fact-finding committee headed by Mr. N K Singh, general secretary of the association. Lucknow-based senior journalist, Mr. Sharad Pradhan, NDTV resident Editor, Mr. Kamal Khan and Star News bureau Chief, Mr. Pankaj Jha were the members of the committee.

The Committee on June 28, 2011 visited the place of occurrence, met the local vendors who had witnessed the sordid scene, recorded their statements along with the statements of the two victims (the COB and the reporter of IBN-7). As it would have been against the basic principles of any enquiry or fact-finding exercise not to take the version of the accused, the team also approached the two police officers in question. The latter agreed to give their version. The team preferred to visit the residence of Mr. Ashok. The Cicle Officer, Mr. Anoop Kumar, was also present. We heard the versions of the two officers.

As contradictory versions were given and as no clear mens rea was emerging, it was important for the committee to know the version of the top officers in the Government who are responsible for implementing “policies”. So the Secretary to CM, Mr. Navneet Sehgal, was approached. He readily agreed to meet us. The committee received his version of the case during the meeting.

Statement- 1

Shalabhmani Tripathi

Senior Spl Correspondent, IBN-7, Lucknow

"Hazratganj main road pe parking band ho jane ki vajah se bahut saare log humare office ki building ke charon taraf car park kar ke chale jate hain..choonki is jagah se traffic police car naheen uthati isliye log yahan gadiyan park kar jaam laga dete hain.Us din raat qareeb 10 ya sawa dus baje ke qareeb main Live India news channel ke office se apne office ki taraf ja raha tha.....Hazratganj main road se jo mod mere office kee taraf mudta hai...uspe ek taraf koyi gaadi park kar ke chala gaya tha...to doosri taraf raaste mein car khadi kar ke do mahila aur ek purush icecream kha rahe they...unki car hate bina wahan se nikalna mumkin naheen tha...Main car se utar ke paidal chalne laga aur driver se kaha ki woh gaadi lekar office kee taraf aaye.Mere driver ne raaste mein car khadi kar icecream khane walon se inki car hatwane ke liye unhein horn diya...lekin agli car walon ne gadi naheen hatayi...ispe mere driver ne do-teen baar horn bajaya...Isse naraz ho ke car mein baithe log utar ke mere driver ko bura bhala kahne lage...Maine pass pahunch ke unhein samjhaya...lekin woh choonki kisi police wale ki family thee shayad isliye kafi garm hone lage...Maine kisi tarah baat khatm karayi....phir unhone apni gadi wahan se hata ke main hazratganj road pe Hanuman mandir kee taraf laga lee...Us waqt mere sahyogi Manoj Rajan Tripathi bhi paas mein hi mod ke pass khade the.

Usee waqt mujhe wahan ASP B.P. Ashok aur CO Hazratganj Anup Kumar aate hue nazar aye.Tabhi saamne se gadi mein baitha mard aa gaya...aur chillane laga ki yeh log hain jo jhagda kar rahe they.Ispe BP Ashok ne aaw dekha na taaw chillate hue Manoj Rajan Tripathi ka collar pakad ke unhein ghaseete hue le jane lage...Ispe maine B.P. Ashok ka hath pakad ke kaha ki arre yeh kya kar rahe hain ?Arre yeh kya kar rahe hain? Ispe BP Ashok ne Manoj ko to chhor diya aur ek hath se meri gardan dabayi aur doosre haath se mujhe dhakka dete hue apni Maruti Gypsy kee taraf dhakelne laga...ispar C.O Anup Kumar bhi mujhe dhakka maarne mein jut gaye.Unhone mujhe apni Gypsy mein thoons diya.Aisa karte hue BP Ashok lagaatar chilla rahe they ki "le chalo (gaali) ko bahut bada mafia banta hai.......(gaali) phaad deinge (gaali) kee.Sarkar kee adhi badnami yahi(gaali) karate hain.Bahut khabar dikhata hai...dimaagh sahi kar deinge (gaali) ka"; Thane pahunch ke unhone sipahiyon se kaha ki "Maar ke tod do (gaali) ko"..lekin sipahiyon ne mujhe naheen mara.Shayad woh mujhe pahchante they.Phir BP Ashok ne munshi se mujhe lock up mein daalne ko kaha.Munshi ne kaha ki pahle likha-parhi kar lein phir daaleinge..Is par BP Ashok us par naraz ho gaye aur kaha ki "Pahle andar karo (gaali) ko phir likha parhi karo." Ispe munhsi ne meri jaama talaashi lee aur mujhe lock up mein daal diya gaya.Lekin tabhi shayad DIG ka phone aa gaya kyonki tab tak unko iski khabar lag gayi thee.Fauran hi ek sipahi daudta hua yeh kahta hua aya ki "juldi nikalo..juldi nikalo" aur mujhe baahar nikaal diya gaya.Tab tak iskee khabar paa kar media ke logon kee bheed wahan jama hone lagi thee....Mujhe lagta hai ki BP Ashok hum logon ko isliye napasand karta hai kyonki jub woh November 2007 mein woh humare studio ka darwaza tod ke andar ghus gaya tha...to hum logon ne us khabar ko kaafi dikhaya tha...Choonki woh police walon mein BSP cadre ke taur pe mashhoor hai isliye mujhe laga ki Dr Sachan ke murder mein hum logon ki reporting se bhi kafi khafa hai."

Statement- 2

Manoj Rajan Tripathi

Senior Spl Correspondent

IBN-7, Lucknow

"Maine B.P. Ashok aur C.O. Anup Kumar ko apni taraf aate dekha to maine socha ki achchha hua ki yeh aa gaye.Inse bhi bataa deinge ki humare office ke raaste mein log itni gadiya khadi kar ke chale jate hain ki jaam lag jaata hai...kisi traffick sipahi ki duty lagwa dein iske liye....Lekin main usse kuchh kah paata usse pahle usne chillate hue mera collar pakad liya..maine medical to naheen karaya tha...lekin abhi bhee mere seene pe kharoch ka nishan hai (Manoj ne kharonch ka nishan dikhaya).Lekin jub Shalabh beech mein aa gaye to usne mujhe chhod Shalabh ko pakad liya.Tabhi kuchh sipahi mujhe pakadne lage.Ek sipahi ne mujhe danda kheech ke maara...lekin woh pole se takraya aur main bach gaya.Main pass mein hee Moti Mahal restaurant ke saamne qulfi khane walon kee bheed mein chhup gaya.Phir maine subse pahle DGP ko phone kiya.Unka phone not reachable aa raha tha.Phir maine Special DGP Brijlal ji ko phone kiya....Main unse umr mein bahut chhota hoon lekin unhone bahut izzat se kaha ki"Jee Manoj Bhai bataiye?" Maine unko bataya ki kaise BP Ashok ne pahle mujhse abhadrata kee.Phir Shalabh ko kis tarah police le gayi hai...Unhone kaha aap fauran phone rakhiye main abhee dekhta hoon...Uske baad main paidal hi Capitol Cinema.. Triloki Nath Road hote hue logon ko phone karte-karte Halwasiya pahuncha...Tub tak media ke aur sathi thane pahunchne lage they.

Statement- 3

Name: Baithu

Age:50 years

Profession: Shikanji seller

“Humne dekha ki ek police afsar tha jo Bhaiya ko kheench kar gadi mein le jaa raha tha”

(Isse saabit hota hai ki BP Ashok yeh jhooth bol rahe hain ki unhone naheen balki unke sipahi Shalabh ko kheench kar gaadi mein le gaye.)

Statement- 4

Name: Shreesh Mishra

Age:41 years

Address: Navalkishor residence

75-Hazratganj

Lucknow

Cell no:09307026690

Profession: Photostate shop

“Main Motimahal se samosa lekar Tejkumar Plaza aa raha tha.Maine police walon ko bahes karte dekha.Pass gaye to dekha ki B.P. Ashok aur CO Anup Kumar Shalabh bhaiya ko galiyan bak rahe hain.Gandi galiyan bak rahe they aur kah rahe they ki “Bahut khabar dikhata hai…bahut gunda ho gaya hai…Pahle Anup Kumar CO ne unke gaal pe haath mara phir BP Ashok unki garden pakad ke dhakka dete hue apni gadi mein le gaye.”

Statement- 5

Name: Praveen Kumar

Employee: Motimahal restaurant.

Age:18 years

“Kulfi ka handa lekar aa rahe they.Mod par jam laga tha.Kuchh jhagda ho raha tha.Ek mahila gadi mein baithi thee..Halla macha rahi thee.Police us waqt naheen thee.”

Statement- 6

Satyavir Singh

Correspondent: IBN-7

“23 November 2007 ko U.P. mein serial blast hua tha.Lucknow mein court mein blast hua.Court ke baahar ke cycle stand par ek cycle pe ek jhole mein rakha zinda bomb bhi baramad hua tha.Cycle stand pe kaam karne walaSunny naam ka ladka bomb wali cycle wahan park karne wale ko pahchanta tha.Isliye hum log use live telecast mein bithane ke liye apne studio laye they.Jub yeh baat BP Ashok ko pata chali jo us waqt CO Hazratganj they to woh force ke saath humare daftar pahunch gaye aur unhone humse kaha ki wah cycle stand wale ladke ko apne sath le jane aaye hain.Humne kaha ki us ladke ke sath is waqt live telecast chal raha hai isliye woh use fauran unhein naheen saunp sakte …lekin live ke baad unhein saunp deinge…lekin ladke ko fauran lejane ki zid pea de C.O. Hazratganj B.P. Ashok ne humko dhakel diya aur stidio ka darwaza tod ke zabardasti andar ghus gaye…aur ladke ko ghaseetne lage.Is ghatna ki khabar hum logon mne kayi baar dikhayi thee…jisse BP Ashok hum logon se naraaz rahte hain”

Accused

Statement-7

Accused: Mr. B P Ashok, SP (City):

“ Mein CO sahib ke saath routin gasht par tha. Achaanak Moti Mahal restaurant ke paas se guzarte hua dekha ki gali ke paas kuchh bheed lagi hai. Main wahan gaya aur dekhaa ek aadami aur ek mahila unchi awaz main gaadi hataane ko lekar kuchh baat kar rahe the. Mein ne us aadmi ko hataane ke liye uskaa haath pakar kar alag kiya. Mein nahin jaanataa thaa ki yah kaun hai. Usi beech salabhmani Tripathi jinko main kai saaloan se jaantaa hun , ne mere haath pakad liya. Chunki main wardi main thaa aur haath pakadnaa State par hamalaa karnaa hai isliye hamare aur CO sahib ke humrahiyoan ne unko lee jaakar gypsi ke peeche daal diyaa. Baad mein humne khud thane ko kahaa ki Shalabh Tripathi ko chhor diya jaaye aur yeh baat mein ne immediate upper ke adhikariyoan ko bataa di. Maamla khatma ho gaya .”

Mr. Ashok Ka kahnaa tha, “agar humen koi badlaa lena hota to mein “phatte chalwaataa.

Aaap jaante hain police ki maar kaisi hoti hai. Agar mujhe koi badla lenaa hota to police ki maar ke baad kya koi statement dene laayak rahta hai. Police ki pitayi ke baad to haftoan tak bolne ya chalne layak nahin rahte”.

Unhoanne yeh bhi kaha “agar meri Shalabh se koi ranjish to mein unhen thane lekar pahle unke khilaf muqdma darz karta aur poori tareh dakhila kar ke hin DIG sahib ko batata. Akhirkaar mera kya ho jata; Mujhe suspend hin to kar dete. Who to aise bhi ho gaya aur wah bhi mujhse bina kuch poochhe hua”.

Mr. Ashok ne yah bhi bataayaa, “November 23/2007 ko wah IBN-7 ke daftar main gaye aur bomb kand ke ek witness ko studio se lakar aaye jab ki wah live programme main baitha tha.”

Unhoan ne kaha, “Yeh hamaari duty thi ki witness se poochtachh ke liye laayaa jaaye”.

Unhone is baat se inkar kiya ki studio kaa darwaza dhakka dekar unhoan ne tod diya.

Mr. Ashok ne bataa yaa ki tammam sangoshthiyoan me wah apne vichaar vyakt karte rahte hain. Unhoanne sweekar kiya ki Ghatanaa ke do din pahle unhoan ne apne facebook main likha tha ki senior journalistoan ko apne junior reportroan ko khabar dene ki sahi training deni chaahiye taki moolyoan ko banaaye rakhaa jaye. Kisi bhi mahtavpoorn sanstha ke liye Pratishodh se kaam karnaa sabhya samaj main upyukt nahin hai.

Mr. Ashok ne kahaa yah tippani general kism kit hi naa ki kisi khas ghatanaa ya vyakti ko dhyan main rakh kar ki gayi thi.

Mr. Ashok ne is arop se inkar kiya ki unhoan ne Salabh mani trpathi ko mara. Unkaa kahnaa tha ki sipahiyoan ne bhi jo kuch kiya wah natural pratikriya thi.

Statement-8

Accused CO Mr. Annop Kumar:

main donoan ko nahin pahchaanata tha. Aur hum ne yahi kahaa ki SP (City) sahib kaa hath kyon pakra. Issi beech hamaare sipahi donoan ko jeep main baithakar thane le gaye.

Government Version

Mr. Navneet Sehgal, Secretary to Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh

It was most unfortunate. You can imagine the seriousness on the part of the Government from the fact that it suspended the two erring officers within hours of the incident and ordered registering of FIRs against them. To my mind the conduct of the SP (city) was highly objectionable. I feel this maverick officer should not have been posted at such a sensitive place like Lucknow . But you can see how serious the Government was. When asked if indirect culpability and thereby lateral criminal liability extended to those on the top in the Government at both political and bureaucratic levels, he categorically denied it. On the question as to whether his posting at important places in the state capital ( Lucknow ) for a longer than usual period has anything to do with his perceived relations with relatives, bureaucrats and individuals close to the Chief Minister, Mr. Sehgal denied any knowledge about such thing. But the officer was insistent on “no role of the Government” and also on “nothing beyond a case of unpardonable maverick behavior of an individual officer ie SP (city)”.

Mr. Sehgal gave a rough recount of the post-release agitation by the journalists.

“Ar around 12.30 night .I got a call from a journalist that hundreds of highly agitated media men have gathered at the police station and were marching towards CM House. I was having dinner at a friend’s house but I immediately realized the magnitude of the problem and rushed to the spot. I could see the anger writ large on the faces of journalists. After talking to senior officers besides journalists, I could sense what had gone wrong and how the officers had erred. I assured them that the two officers would be suspended first thing in the morning and FIR would be registered against them. This tamed the anger of the journalists. Next day even the CM was quite angry over what had happened with IBN-7 reporters.”

Observations

The Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) being the apex normative body of the journalists has as its objective a greater role of the media for public good which is an ineluctable condition for strengthening democracy. It is in this light that the BEA always shows required concern for any attempt from any quarter to obstruct this role. The Lucknow incident falls in such category. But as this body has also to ensure that other institutions too perform their functions in equally free and fair atmosphere, it was decided to form a fact-finding team.

So far as the culpability of the two officers mentioned above is concerned, even the Government after its preliminary enquiry asserted that the misbehavior and manhandling by them were without “reason” and that “their conduct has lowered the prestige of the Police department”.

But in criminal jurisprudence, no culpability can exist without mens rea (criminal intent) if the accused is sane. And the committee has no reason to believe that the two officers were not sane persons. That leaves the team with the job of finding the exact reason. The Committee knew that it could have been situation-generated and immediate, distant or indirect, political or personal and prompted or self-propelled. For assessing this we tried to go into the past incidents if any, circumstances prevailing in the state in administrative arena, at present and the preferences and proclivities of the political dispensation ever since it assumed charge four years.

Some facts in the backdrop

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, Ms. Mayawati, took oath on May 13, 2007 as UP Chief Minister. An incident of bomb blast took place on November 23 that year in Lucknow Collectorate. A witness who claimed that he had seen the person who planted the bomb was being shown live by the IBN-7 in Lucknow studios. The police came to know of this fact. Mr. B P Ashok, who was the than Circle Officer of the area (Hazratganj) rushed to the TV office and insisted that this person be turned over to him forthwith. Those present in the office pleaded with him that the police could take the person only after the live was over. But this argument did not deter the officer and he broke open the studio doors and dragged this person out of studios. Even this scene was shown by the channel, again live. The fact-finding team did see the door which is still without hinges.

Dr. Sachan was murdered (?) in otherwise high security jail premises on June 22, 2011 . As needle of suspicion and circumstances pointed to possible involvement of the “high and mighty”, the media took the matter seriously. Since our country has adopted the adversarial form of democracy, the role of the State in general and the Government in particular has always remained under the scrutiny by the people in general and the media in particular. Stories were carried on how the corrupt-criminal nexus had been calling the shot in the health department and how the bureaucracy has become either a colluding partner or an entity shackled into submission.

Just a few days ago Lakhimpur –Khiri rape case had also resulted into anti-Government and anti-police wave prompting the opposition parties to take on the ruling BSP.

Two days after the media went the whole hog airing post-Sachan murder case stories, Mr. B P Ashok wrote on his face book

“Society expects from all officers and important bodies that they must be trained to act in a lawful manner. Highhandedness is harmful for society. Senior journalists should make efforts to train their juniors to maintain values. Revengefulness is not good for any important body in civilized society”.

After the IBN -7 incident Mr. Ashok posted on his facebook on July 1,2011 ie three days after this committee visited him

“Parallel official Media “

“Now the time has come when Govts should start parallel newspapers and TV channels which can create a healthy competition to do away with the highhandedness of ovt newspapers and channels. Thereafter mediacracy will be controlled”

Mr. Anoop Kumar CO, Hazaratganj along with SP (City), it seems, acted in a brazen manner by beating and abusing Mr. Shalabh Mani Tripathi and asking the head constable of the police station to shove Mr. Shalabhmani Tripathi into lock-up forthwith. The head-constable was reluctant to do so upon which the officers chided him. At one point of time even most of the policemen present their showed no alacrity in obeying the officer.

Meanwhile, a large number of journalists gathered at the police station. Assessing the severity of the situation, the DIG , Lucknow called up the police station and ordered immediate release of Mr. Tripathi. The CO besides the SP (City) had disappeared from the scene.

Some indirectly related facts

A few weeks ago (before this incident), the Principal Secretary (Home) of UP Government held a press conference. He was talking about a rape case allegedly involving a BSP MLA. While underlining the government alacrity in proceeding against the culprit at this press conference, he also asserted that the “Bahujan Samaj Party has also suspended this MLA”. The team understands that senior IAS officers know the constitutional position and the role of bureaucracy. In their training also the line between political exigency and functioning of permanent executive is made clear. The officer had jumped that line.

We have obtained photographs wherein the same SP(City) on a number of occasions held lathi in his hand and charged unarmed demonstrators including women.

A week after this incident another district magistrate publicly announced, “I will beat these journalists to pulp, should Bahen Ji (Chief Minister Mayawati) so desire”.

Senior bureaucrats holding district charges are often photographed by media genuflecting before the political masters in abject supplication.

It is clear from the facts of the case that the two officers on the spot had jumped the legal parameters. Mr. Ashok made three claims (a) that Mr. Shalabhmani Tripathi had held his wrist in order to protest the “questioning” of his junior colleague Mr. Manoj, (2) that “this act of the latter infuriated the constables and (3) that the constables shoved Mr.Shalabhmani into the Gypsy and brought him to police station.

He also said since it he was in uniform and as such representing the State and since holding the wrist was an affront on the state, the juniors’ action was justified. The officer also claimed that it was he who had after a few minutes asked the police station staff to release him. In order to argue that there was no bias against Mr. Shalabh whom he had been knowing personally for the past several years, he said:

“Severity of UP police beating is known to everyone. Had I been biased, Shalabh would not have been in a position to give statement”.

For argument sake we take the above mentioned claims on face value ie the SP (City) in uniform symbolizes the State. We also countenance, for argument sake, that holding wrist of a uniformed police officer (although the accuser not only categorically denies it but also emphatically alleges that the officer held him by collar , pushed him and abused him asking the constables to shove him into the Gypsy) when officer was at work, was wrong. In the same spirit we can also accept the argument that if state symbol is denigrated, the juniors get infuriated and manhandle individual wrong-doer. But the million-dollar question that remains to be answered is : Was it justified for a police officer with 15 years of service as a gazetted officer to remain silent spectator (if not collusive partner) when his juniors get infuriated shoving and pushing an individual into the jeep and taking him to police station? State’s response should be commensurate with situation. Was the situation demanding such a wanton action? Can the officer buttress his “no guilty intention” plea on the equally abhorring argument that UP police is known for its beating-skills that may have rendered anyone out of commission for weeks?

It seems that the officer being responsible for Lucknow East had assumed a role of serving the powers-that-be even out of parameters provided under the law of the land. Obtrusively charging otherwise peaceful demonstrators himself in full view of media, writing on the Face book two days before the incident how senior journalists should train their juniors who purportedly do not maintain values and who are revengeful point to something more than what meets the eyes.

Had he been true to his contention, he might as well have written after the incident that his juniors (of his own admission) should not have beat up and shoved journalist Mr. Shalabh in the jeep if they were trained properly. He should also have written in the same breath that values and normal behavioral decency forbid somebody to subject any person whose identity is know and who is personally known to him, to such assault and public humiliation.

The officer, it seems, has also assumed that if he quells any form of anti-government expressions like demonstrations or stories in the media, the political dispensation would be pleased and as consequence other peer officers would not dare touch him.

If we juxtapose the assertion of none other than the Principal Secretary (Home) who had talked about how BSP had suspended the MLA charged with rape, we can find the answer to why officers are going overboard to please the present political dispensation.

Genesis of the problem

Article 311 of the Indian Constitution provides a unique protection to civil servants. No other constitution in the world appears to contain the guarantee that article does. The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution and Hota Committee besides the Law Commission recommended review of this article whereas the IInd Administrative Reforms Commission (report no 4) pleads for its complete abolition.

Even while introducing this article before the Constituent Assembly Sardar Patel had argued “the intention is clearly to embolden senior civil servants to render impartial and frank advice to the political executive without fear of retribution”. The protection implied a free and frank advice (and also conduct in accordance with law of the land). But with degeneration in institutions the bureaucracy instead of giving and frank advice has become repressive agent of the powers-that-be and at the same time getting protection

The steel frame has melted into servility.

It leaves society with another question: What do political masters do when faced with such servility? Is the bureaucratic servility a product of these masters’ coercive tactics applied by dint of the power to transfer and post? Does political dispensation indirectly extend its blessings when an officer jumps the legal barrier to use force to quell a demonstration or make public manifestation of his ideological proclivities and seeks to identify himself with the political masters by touching their feet, flaunting a particular color or going overboard helping the ruling party people?

Did UP Government headed by Ms Mayawati take the officer to task when he was personally lathi-charging women belonging to opposition party or manhandling suave and old leaders staging demonstrations? Did the Chief Minister express zero-tolerance to such conduct by taking action against certain officers?

For the illegal conduct of such pliable officers should not the political executive be faulted? The Constitutional function of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility is to secure the accountability of the executive to the legislature. Such accountability, to operate at all, requires not only that some person should be answerable to the legislature for activities of a Government department, but also that he should in fact have some control over those activities. The language of ministerial responsibility and responsible government would lose its point if it were not generally believed that by means of political institutions it was possible to influence the subsequent activities of the executive, as per the Constitutional provisions

In the present case the officer seems to have thought that anything which is to the perceived detriment of ruling party has to be quelled, legally or illegally. And such messages do not come from the above on case-to-case basis but through a process of tacit rewards that, in administrative parlance, is known as “prized or important postings”.

Final findings

Mr. BP Ashok did not act in consonance with the role legally prescribed for him. Mr. Anoop Kumar (CO) was collusive and active partner in the wanton conduct. While a case under relevant sections has been registered against them and law will take its own course, the Government should ensure that they do not exert undue pressure to influence the investigation being carried out by the department they belonged to.

While criminal liability is subject to judicial process, the quasi-criminal, ethical and moral liabilities extend to the political executive. It will be in the interest of the Government that it also ensures that justice is done to the accuser.

1. (N K Singh), Chairman, Fact-Finding Team and General Secretary, BEA

2. (Sharad Pradhan), Member, Fact-Finding Team and Senior Journalist

3. (Kamal Khan), Member, Fact-Finding Team and Resident Editor, NDTV

4. (Pankaj Jha), Member, Fact-Finding Team, Chief of Bureau, Star News

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