Gauhati HC
Gauhati High Court. Image credit - ghconline.gov.in

The Aizawl bench of Gauhati High Court on Wednesday asked the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Aizawl district to submit ‘status report’ on the incident occurred on April 25 in which eight teenagers, who flouted lockdown, were allegedly assaulted by volunteers of a local level task force, within two weeks.

The seven respondents, including state chief secretary, home secretary and chairman of Dinthar local level task force on Covid-19 should also submit their affidavits in opposition within two weeks, with regard to the incident and also clarify what steps have been taken or will be taken so that such incidents are not repeated in future, the order issued by Gauhati high court judge Justice Michael Zothankhuma said.

Eight youngsters, who defied lockdown, were apprehended by volunteers of Dinthar local level task force on April 25.

Dinthar is one of the well known localities located in western part of the state capital.

The incident came to light the next day when a video footage showing volunteers beating and slapping the teenagers was circulated on social media like Facebook and Whatsapp.

Dinthar local level task force in its statement on Tuesday claimed that the teenagers were caught while smoking ganja  and violating the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.

The matter is being taken up by the court in view of reports in a section of media and the local level task force’s press statement.

The court said that the perusal of the case show that there has been outright violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

“No person or authority has the right to take the law into his or its own hands, in violation of the constitution of the country and the laws made there-under,” it said.

The court observed that the youngsters should have been handed over to the police or excise officials if they had been caught with drugs or ganja so that they could be tried by a court under Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (ND&PS) Act, 1985.

Similarly, If curfew or lockdown was violated, the violators should have been handed over to police for appropriated action under the existing law.

The court said that the state respondents should ensure that instructions or guidelines or parameters, within which the various local or village task forces are to operate are not flouted, so that there is uniformity in the manner of functioning of the various task forces lest there will be confusion, anarchy, hardship and violation of law with regard to efforts made the government to curtail the spread of novel coronavirus in the state.

“The good work done by the various local level task forces should not be derailed and given a bad name by some persons who illegally take the law into their own hands,” the court further said.

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