Earlier in December 2020, the Punjab and Haryana High Court noted that there is no harm in publishing names of persons declared as absconding accused on social media.
The bench headed by Justice Amol Rattan Singh has made the above observations in relation to the Punjab Police Rule, 1934 particularly the norms concerning measures that could be taken by the police to try and apprehend persons who are declared by a court as absconding or cannot be traced these despite warrants being issued.
The Court also noted that absconders/persons who are not being arrested despite warrants for their arrest having been issued, naturally the statutory provisions of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934 would be adhered to by the two States and the U.T., Chandigarh.
“This court would see no harm in extending the publishing of the names of such persons (as are statutorily allowed to be published vide the aforesaid Rules), in the social media as is now available via the internet, etc,” the Court said.
The HC bench further noted that the 1934 Rules allowed for the publication of details of absconders over newspapers and magazines, the only social media available at that point in time. Therefore, the publication can now be permitted over the internet and social media as well, the Court reasoned while citing that the Rules made no provision for social media announcements since these were not available when the Rules were promulgated.
“Since in the year 1934 when the Punjab Police Rules were promulgated, there was no internet and consequently the only social media available at that stage would have been newspapers and magazines, etc. This court would see no harm in extending the publishing of the names of such persons in social media as is now available via the internet.”
However, the court clarified that the entries and continuation of names of ‘accused persons’ in the surveillance registers would have to be subject to continuous revision.