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HomeJ&K"The High Court emphasizes that the decision to open or retain a...

“The High Court emphasizes that the decision to open or retain a history sheet must be grounded in reasonable factors.”

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Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh held that law enforcement agencies should strictly adhere to the established guidelines when labeling individuals as “history-sheeters”.

Allowing the petition of one Bashir-ud-Din of Jamsalan, tehsil Mahore, district Reasi, a bench of Justice M A Chowdhary said that the decision to open or retain a history sheet should not be in a mechanical manner but based on reasonable grounds.

The petitioner had sought to quash the ‘Verification of Character and Antecedents Certificate’ issued by Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Mahore about him, which described him as a “history sheeter” besides “being under surveillance”.

Citing Police Rules, 1960, the court said: “The Police Rules also do not leave the matters at the sole discretion of any one Police officer, as the same is required to be dealt with by the senior officers as well.”

The court held that all materials have to be considered and no relevant material should be excluded from consideration.

It said: “There has to be a deliberated decision taken, giving reasons which should reflect the application of mind to such materials, after all being leveled a history-sheeter as a grave and adverse consequence for a person and, therefore, such a power should be exercised with caution and responsibility.”

The court said that as long as surveillance was to prevent crime, there could not be any complaint about the inclusion of a name in the surveillance register, however, the entry has to be made based on the material provided by the history sheet, whose contents by their very nature have to be confidential.

While the court pointed out that there must be sufficient material to justify the inclusion of the name in the surveillance register, it said: “Ordinarily, the names of the persons with previous criminal record alone are entered in the surveillance register.”

The court said that the criteria for opening a history sheet was the subjective satisfaction of the authority and it had to be arrived at, on the reasonable belief or knowledge that the person, for whom the history was opened or retained was habitually addicted or aid or abet, the commission of a crime, whether convicted or not.

“While arriving at the subjective satisfaction, the activities of such persons which are informative and useful, based on the facts ascertained by the police from the date of last entry shall be made month-wise for close watch of characters and quarterly for non-close watch of characters,” the court held.

It said that the discretion of the authorities had to be exercised according to the rules of reason and justice and not according to private opinion, according to law, and not humour.

“It is to be not arbitrarily vague, fanciful, but legal and regular and it must be exercised within the limit to which an honest man competent to discharge of his office or to confine himself,” the court held.

“The history sheet of the petitioner opened at Police Station, Mahore on November 19, 2022, and its periodical extensions are found to be not by the rules on the subject. The history sheet of the petitioner along with all extensions is, thus, ordered to be removed from the record of the concerned police station,” the court said and allowed the petition.

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