MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has said the Maharashtra Police machinery is under "great stress and strain" during the lockdown, and directed the state government and local civic authorities to deploy off-duty revenue officials for duties where police personnel are not required.
Justice RV Ghuge of the high court's Aurangabad bench gave the directive on Tuesday while hearing a petition taken up suo moto (on its own) by the court on various issues concerning medical, paramedical staff and police personnel.
The court said that the state police machinery is under great stress and strain as the security personnel are deployed on streets, railway stations, residential localities, even for dealing with applications of those seeking travel passes, and other duties.
"I am sure the local administration and the state government are aware that several officers and employees of the revenue department are off duty. The state government should consider deployment of such revenue officers, especially those below the age of 50 years, for the purpose of dealing with such activities and issues wherein police personnel need not be necessary," the judge said in the order.
If migrants, displaced workers or students desire to return to their native places and are required to register themselves, then the state government and local administration can utilise revenue department employees, so as to ease the burden and pressure on the police department, the court said.
The court directed the government and local authorities to allot such duties to the revenue department's 'off duty' employees in areas where policing or the presence of police authorities is not necessary.
The court also took note of an incident where a nurse working in the Aurangabad district general hospital in Chikalthana area was assaulted in her house by a group of persons who threatened her and her family to leave the society as locals feared she could spread coronavirus infection there.
It also noted that last month, while hearing another matter on the issue of COVID-19, the Aurangabad civic body authorities and police assured the court that adequate protection would be given to members of medical faculty who are facing such threats and assault.
"I am of the view that time has come to direct the authorities concerned to register offences against such residents who threaten, abuse or assault medical and paramedical staff. The police authorities shall consider such offences seriously and should not hesitate to initiate appropriate action against such miscreants and register offences by following due process of law," the judge said in the order.