Bombay High Court judge Gautam Patel has warned against the “dangerous message” sent by films like Singham, which portray police officers as delivering instant justice without following due process of law.

In a speech at an event organised by the Indian Police Foundation, Justice Patel said that such films encourage “impatience” with the rule of law and create a negative image of the police as “bullies, corrupt, and unaccountable.”

Justice Patel also criticised the way judges are portrayed in such films, saying that they are often shown as “docile, timid, thickly spectacled, and often very badly dressed.” This, he said, reinforces the populist notion that the courts are not doing their job and that the police need to take matters into their own hands.

He elaborated by saying, “Singham movie has especially shown in its climax scene where the entire police force descends on a politician played by Prakash Raj…and shows that justice has now been served. But I ask, has it?” He added that we should think “how dangerous that message is.”

While commending the efforts of Prakash Singh, the former Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police, in advocating for police reforms, Justice Patel noted the need for a broader conversation on reforming various aspects of the justice system. He also highlighted the unfortunate populist perception of the police as “bullies, corrupt, and unaccountable,” which can lead to public celebration of extrajudicial actions.

“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.

Justice Patel’s comments come at a time when the makers of the Singham franchise are all set for the third instalment of the Ajay Devgn-starrer.