Mumbai, September 23
The cinematic image of a "hero cop" delivering quick justice without bothering about the due process of law, as shown in blockbuster films like 'Singham', sends out a harmful message, Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court said here on Friday.
Speaking at a function organised by the Indian Police Foundation to mark its annual day and Police Reforms Day, he also questioned people's "impatience" with the process of law.
Talking about police reforms, the judge said the Supreme Court's judgement in the Prakash Singh case was an "opportunity missed", and also noted that the law enforcement machinery could not be reformed unless we reformed ourselves.
The image of police as "bullies, corrupt and unaccountable" is a populist one and the same can be said about anyone in the public life, including judges, politicians and journalists, he said.
When the public thinks that the courts are not doing their job, it celebrates when the police step in, the judge said.
"This is why when a rape accused is killed in an encounter while allegedly trying to flee, people think it is not just all right but it is celebrated. Justice has been served, they feel, but has it?" he said.
This view is deeply pervasive and reflected strongly in our popular culture, especially in Indian cinema, Justice Patel noted.
"In movies, police rail against judges who are shown as docile, timid, thickly-spectacled and often very badly dressed. They accuse courts of letting the guilty go. The hero cop delivers justice single-handedly," he said.
"'Singham' movie has especially shown in its climax scene where the entire police force descends on the politician played by Prakash Raj...and shows that justice has been served. But I ask, has it," Justice Patel said, adding that we should think "how dangerous that message is".
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