Guidelines For Making Or Continuing Entries In Rowdy Register /History Sheets In Light Of ‘Privacy Jurisprudence’: In Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court has provided standards for police to follow before placing a person’s name into the Register of Rowdies, which is kept by every police station.

A single-judge bench led by Honorable Justice Krishna S Dixit in the case of B S Prakash vs State of Karnataka ( W.P.No. 4505/ 2021) said that  “The implications of an individual’s name being entered and kept in the ‘Register of Rowdies’ indefinitely are far-reaching. There are discernible consequences adverse to the interest of the individual concerned who may not be an accused. As a result, a proper procedure must be put in place for making or continuing entries in the rowdy register/history sheets. There also has to be evolved a proper Grievance Redressal Mechanism against a wrongful registration of names & their continuation, regardless of the request of the aggrieved for deletion.”

“The existing provisions of the Manual as interpreted by the Courts thus far allegedly prove inadequate in light of Puttaswamy jurisprudence, which has expanded the content and contours of privacy and autonomy of individuals,” it continued.

Facts of the case are that petitions were filed by the petitioners stating that their names are instituted in the rowdy sheets and history sheets for a long time and filed for the removal of the names from that rowdy and history sheets.

While hearing a batch of petitions filed by people whose names were on the list of rowdies, the bench stated, “While the State has a legitimate interest in the protection of its citizens, it also has a responsibility to protect individuals. In matters of history sheeting and rowdy sheeting, because of their implications, the Police should critically examine & adjust the boundaries between the societal interest and liberties of the individual concerned. As a result, there may be a need for comprehensive legislation on the subject following Puttaswamy.”

It went on to say, “Until that is done, the commoners cannot be asked to put up with the unsatisfactory legal regime that is

Accordingly it issued the following guidelines for supplementing the existing position of law relating to Rowdy Sheeting & History Sheeting:

  1. Before entering an individual’s name into the Register of Rowdies, the jurisdictional police shall collect and collate material information about him and frame the proposal for registration on that basis.
  2. A brief proposal notice shall be sent to the individual concerned in a sealed cover, with an option to submit his representation as to why his name should not be registered as a rowdy within two weeks. There is, however, no need to pay for a personal hearing. In exceptional circumstances, notice may be waived for reasons to be recorded in the Register of Rowdies.
  • In accordance with Clause (5) of Order 1059 of the Manual, the Superintendent of Police or the Sub – Divisional Police Officer shall not grant approval for the entry of an individual’s name into the Register of Rowdies without first calling for records and objectively reviewing them. He shall briefly record his reasons for granting the approval and immediately provide a copy to the individual, mentioning that he may file a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority.
  1. As provided in Clause (2), Order 1057 of the Manual, the jurisdictional Police must conduct a periodic review of entries in the Register of Rowdies on their own every two years. However, the aggrieved may make a representation at any time after one year of registration, seeking deletion of the name from the Rowdy Register on the basis of changed circumstances such as rectitude, good conduct, social/community service, and so
  2. The representation for review shall be considered by the jurisdictional Police at the initial level within 30 days, during which time necessary inputs on the merits of the claim may be obtained from available sources. Within 15 days, the recommendation, along with the representation and material gathered, shall be sent to the jurisdictional Superintendent of Police or the Sub – Divisional Police Officer. This recommendation, along with the outcome of the representation’s consideration, will be communicated to the individual concerned within the next 15 days.
  3. Any individual who is dissatisfied with the rejection of his representation or the continuation of his name in the Register may file a petition with the Police Complaints Authority within 30 days. However, no personal hearing will be held. The authority shall dispose of the petition by recording reasons within a time limit of 60 days after considering the material on file or any new inputs that may be requisitioned.
  • The entire Rowdy/History Sheeting process, from the issuance of the proposal notice as specified above, to the issuance of the orders on the petition, if any, to the Police Complaints Authority, shall be done only in a sealed cover procedure, and nothing therein shall be disclosed or made available to anyone, except the aggrieved, and no Right To Information (RTI) application shall be entertained in this regard.
  • Violation of these guidelines shall constitute major misconduct, and an adverse entry on proof thereof shall be made in the Service Register of the erring official by the Disciplinary Authority after hearing him, and a copy thereof shall be marked to the victim of Rowdy Register/History Sheet, without any delay.
  • Whatever guidelines are outlined above will apply to History Sheeters as well, mutatis mutandis, and subject to the provisions of the Karnataka Police Manual, 1965.

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