The Times of India reports
The Supreme Court has ruled that a person’s reputation is an inseparable part of his fundamental right to life and liberty and hence, the police and other authorities with the power to detain should be very sure of their facts against an individual before taking him into preventive detention and lodging him in jail.
“The reputation of a person is a facet of his right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution”
Let me reiterate some facts that I noted in an earlier post. Under the Indian constitution:
I do not have the right to express my thoughts freely. The state may impose “reasonable restrictions” on my expression “in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.” (article 19)
I do not have a right to my property. (The right to property is not a fundamental right)
I do not have a right to my body. “Nothing in this article (article 23) shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes”
But now I do have a right to reputation – a right to what others think of me, a right to others judgement. And this is what the Times has to say about it
It should be welcomed by those who are disturbed by the rampant trend among cops to send the accused to jail even for bailable offences or when the evidence has not fully firmed up. Anxious to appease the chorus for swift justice and to be seen as discharging their law enforcement brief, cops and other detaining authorities see jailing the accused as an easy option.
There is no need to invoke a right to reputation to keep the police from abusing their powers. In the earlier post I wrote,
“This mess of contradictory and concrete-bound articles institutionalizes an approach of rampant pragmatism to governance. It institutionalizes the idea that there are no absolute rights, no absolute principles and no absolute limits to the actions governments can take.”
This ruling and its purpose serve to underline that.