Tuesday, Dec 05, 2023

'Films Like Singham Send Very Harmful Message': Mumbai High Court Judge

'Films Like Singham Send Very Harmful Message': Mumbai High Court Judge

Mumbai HC Judge Gautam Patel said 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.

Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court.(File photo) File Photo/PTI

Mumbai High Court judge has said “films like Singham send very harmful message”.

Justice Gautam Patel of the Bombay High Court said 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 very harmful message, reported PTI.

He was speaking at a function organised by the Indian Police Foundation to mark its annual day and Police Reforms Day, mentioned.

He as per the report also questioned people's "impatience" with the process of law.

Talking about police reforms, the judge said that the Supreme Court's judgement in the Prakash Singh case was an "opportunity missed", and also noted that the law enforcement machinery can not be reformed unless we reform ourselves, it said.

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, it added.

When the public thinks that the courts are not doing their job, it celebrates when the police step in, the judge said, the report mentioned.

"This is why when a rape accused is killed in an encounter while allegedly trying to flee, people think it is not just alright but it is celebrated. Justice has been served, they feel, but has it?" he said, as per the report.

This view is deeply pervasive and reflected strongly in our popular culture, especially in Indian cinema, Justice Patel noted, it mentioned.

"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, as per the report.

"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 now been served. But I ask, has it," Justice Patel said, the report mentioned.

He added that we should think "how dangerous that message is." "Why this impatience? It has to go through a process where we decide innocence or guilt. These processes are slow...they have to be...because of the cardinal principle that the liberty of an individual is not to be confiscated,” the report said.

If this process was abandoned in favour of "shortcuts", then "we subvert the rule of law," Justice Patel said, as per the report.

Singham (2011), an action film directed by Rohit Shetty, is a remake of the 2010 Tamil film of the same title and stars Ajay Devgn in the lead role as a police officer.

Earlier, talking about police reforms, Justice Patel said that when going through the top court's 2006 judgement on police reforms in the Prakash Singh case, he comes away "with a distinct feeling that this was an opportunity missed", it mentioned.

"....The focus was perhaps too narrow...only on police reforms...there is a much wider dialogue...a broader conversation that we must have," he said, as per the report.

Police reforms cannot be seen in isolation and there are other significant reforms that are necessary, Justice Patel said, it mentioned.

He salutes Prakash Singh -- the former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police who had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking reforms in the way the police machinery functions -- for his undaunted and untiring efforts in making police reforms a reality, the judge added, it mentioned.