Delhi High Court: While addressing a very unfortunate incident of police assault, Najmi Waziri, J., expressed that
Let no one have to repeat the tragic last words like George Perry Floyd, Jr.: “I can‟t breathe”.
Petitioner complained of being mercilessly beaten, ill-treated and grievously injured by Delhi Police. Further, it was stated that he was never called for any enquiry apropos the alleged assault and/or the resultant injuries.
Photographs were annexed which showed that the petitioner was being assaulted by persons in police uniform.
The said assault was said to be questionable as the law does not permit people to be beaten up in police custody even during interrogation.
Petitioner contended that the so-called inquiry was a sham and mere paperwork and hence sought an inquiry to be conducted by an officer of a higher rank.
To inspire confidence in an inquiry, fairness of the procedure adopted and examination of the substantive issues, must be apparent. This fundamental principle has not been observed in the so-called “inquiry report”.
Analysis, Law and Decision
High Court stated that, a fresh inquiry was warranted because ex facie the photographs and the video had shown that two men (said to be the petitioner and his well-wisher) were being assaulted repeatedly by a posse of policemen who are in uniform and in civilian attire.
Court noted that the violent pushing, punching and elbow strikes, started the moment they petitioners the precincts of the police station. The two civilians were not violent when they walked into the said precincts and possibly could not because they were surrounded and held by policemen. No unruliness or assault was seen on any policeman by the petitioner or his well-wisher. For the physical assault and beating given to the private individuals, there appeared no immediate provocation, perhaps it was because of some pique of the policemen.
Punishment for an assault or a criminal act is to be determined by a court of law. The police cannot be a judge in its own cause. The law does not permit people to be beaten-up in police custody or during interrogation.
In view of the above, Court directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Vigilance) to conduct an inquiry. [Mohd Areeb Umar v. State NCT of Delhi, WP (Crl) 2096 of 2021, decided on 27-10-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Sufian Siddiqui and Rakesh Bhugra, Advocates