The Allahabad High Court scrutinized the appropriateness of warning messages such as ‘dekhte hi goli maar di jayegi’ (shoot on sight) and ‘trespassers will be shot’ displayed on signboards outside military installations.

This observation came during a bail hearing for a Nepali citizen who was apprehended for illegally entering an Air Force station while intoxicated in February of the current year. The individual faced charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act.

A Bench of Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav expressed concerns over the potential negative impact of such harsh language, especially on passers-by, including children. The order said, “it is true that trespassers are not allowed to enter into premises of armed forces for the purpose of security, but the language mentioned as "dekhte hi goli maar di jayegi", in my opinion, is not proper, particularly, where the installation of armed forces situated in public place where general public, specially, children keeps coming and going. These type of words have a bad impact on the children so the Central Government may take caution in writing theses types of words. There should be light words used in place of "Trespassers will be shot" and "dekhte hi goli maar di jayegi'.”

Advocate Pradeep Kumar appeared for the Applicant, while Additional Solicitor General SP Singh appeared for the Respondent.

The Court suggested that softer language could be used to convey the same message, proposing alternatives like 'strict action would be taken'. The Court emphasized the need for caution, particularly in public areas where children frequent, regarding the language used in such warnings.

The Court, while examining the case, involved the Central government as a party to evaluate the measures implemented to prevent unauthorized access and trespassing on defense land.

Despite security enhancements post incidents like the Pathankot Air Base and Uri Army Base attacks, instances of trespassing continued to occur, as highlighted in an affidavit submitted by the Air Force.

The Court noted that warnings such as "trespassers will be shot" were commonly displayed outside Army and Air Force installations nationwide. While acknowledging the necessity to deter trespassers, the Court recommended refraining from using direct and potentially alarming language.

Regarding the accused Nepali citizen, it was argued that he was illiterate and had entered India seeking employment, with no malicious intent upon entering the Air Force station.

Granting bail, the Court cited the likelihood of a protracted criminal trial and the absence of compelling evidence suggesting tampering as reasons for the decision.

Advocate Purnendu Kumar Singh appeared for the Air Force.

Cause Title: Etvir Limbu v. State of U.P., [2024:AHC:100306]


Respondent: Additional Solicitor General SP Singh and Advocate Purnendu Kumar Singh

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