THE Punjab and Haryana High Court on June 12 admonished police officials for using the racially offensive term ‘’Nigro” in documents submitted to it. The police had used the racially offensive slur in challan papers while referring to an African national before the trial court in a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) case.
“This is a highly offensive word across the globe and no one has any business to use it, and much less the police. Hence, it is directed never to use the unprintable word in any police document including in challans or anywhere else on case papers including in investigation reports”, Justice Rajiv Narain Raina said. He added “this brings shame to India and hatred for the country. The police appear to have assumed that every black is a drug peddler and should be treated as such. This is terrible thinking”.
Justice Raina asked the Director-General of Police, Punjab to consider the entire issue and notify instructions in this regard to the police force. He called calling upon them to never use the offensive term ‘nigro’ or ‘negro’ while referring to “black” persons in case papers.
“They deserve the dignity and respect in a foreign land as visitors or students in India from Africa temporarily living in our country, which prides itself of many peoples of all colours of the skin ranging from white to black and aboriginal. This has nothing to do with investigation or crime”, stressed Justice Raina.
The court also directed that the investigating officers and the police officials that record FIRs should be immediately sensitized and warned on the issue by ensuring that no person should be looked down upon on the basis of the colour of his/her skin.
“All Africans are our friends and when they come to India either as visitors or students they are our valuable guests and we should be reminded that India is rich in its traditions of ‘mehman nawazi’ and ‘attithi sanskar/satkar’ and prides itself on this. They should simply be referred to by the country of their origin in case papers”, the court said.
This aspect, according to the court, needs to be corrected by sanction of the law. It ordered strict action against policemen who indulge in such character assassination based on physical features. It noted that investigation of crime apart, investigation which should be non-aggressive and in the search for truth.
“This is socially unacceptable but what can one expect from an uneducated and insensitive constabulary, as in this case. The pernicious practice should be stopped forthwith and the police commanded on pain of disciplinary action never to address anyone by that description, forget about writing it down in official papers of permanent State record”, the court observed.