P&H HC stresses upon adopting contemporary methods of investigation rather than taking third-degree shortcuts

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Amol Rattan Singh, J., held that police stations including the interrogation room should be covered by CCTV surveillance.

Petitioner sought a direction to respondents 1 to 3 stating that whenever he be taken for interrogation, videography be done of his leaving the jail premises till his reaching the police station concerned and during interrogation, a videography be also done.

Further, it was prayed that during the interrogation his medical examination be also conducted through a board of doctors or through a civil hospital, so that if any torture ‘is done to him’, then it can be revealed through the said medical examination.

Adding to the above, the petitioner also prayed that when he is to be taken outside the jail on remand, then either his family members or his lawyer be informed of the location, with his lawyer to be permitted to be present there, where he is being taken and appropriate security be also provided so that he may not be killed in a fake encounter.

Lastly, it was prayed that respondents 1 to 3 be directed to comply with the provisions of Section 31 of the Prisons Act, 1984.

On 3-12-2021, this Court had directed the DGPs of Punjab and Haryana to file affidavits in response to observations made in that order, in reply to which the affidavits were filed.

Analysis and Discussion

With the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184 also being to the extent that cameras be installed at not just entry and exit points and main gates of police stations, but also in all lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception areas, verandas, out houses, rooms of officials, outside the lock-up rooms, station hall and in front of the police station compound, as also outside washrooms and toilets, the obvious implication is that no part of the police stations would be left uncovered by CCTV surveillance.

In view of the above, Court stated that in view of the above any interrogation room would also be covered by such directions.

DGP, Haryana and DGP, Punjab have been directed to file affidavits as to whether the directions laid down in the Supreme Court decision have been complied with or not.

The non-compliance of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, (2021) 1 SCC 184, would amount to Contempt of Court and this Court would, naturally, also be bound to ensure that the directions issued by the Supreme Court are actually carried out at ground level by the States and Union Territory falling within the jurisdiction of this court.

High Court directed that in the case of every person who is in police custody or is being taken into police custody, all provisions of the CrPC, including Sections 41-B, 41-C, 41-D and 54, 55 and 55-A would be meticulously followed, with compliance reports in that regard to be made a part of the report under Section 173 of the CrPC, as regards even medical examination necessarily to be conducted in terms of Section 55-A thereof.

Bench reiterated that,

“police faces a very uphill task in dealing with criminals, especially hardened criminals and the work done by the police force and any investigating agency is to be highly appreciated, in trying to apprehending criminals and actually apprehending them and bringing them to justice; yet, as per the constitutional scheme and the statutory provisions framed thereunder in India, not even the worst criminal can be denied a fair procedure in terms of the statutory provisions laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and any such law in force.”

Therefore, violation of the procedure laid down above especially leading to violation of human rights even in the case of worst criminal, cannot be ignored by any Court.

Lastly, the Court noted that it would be an excuse for India to take a plea that many other countries are far more advanced than India and therefore there can be no comparison with the methods adopted there, in interrogating accused persons here.

Bench highlighted that,

 We are the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world and therefore any such plea taken would only seem to be taken as an excuse to not actually adopt contemporary methods of investigation, including interrogation, rather than taking shortcuts by using third degrees methods etc.

High Court adjourned the matter to 9-2-2022. [Kaushal v. State of Haryana, CRM-M-43672 of 2021, decided on 7-1-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

Bipan Ghai, Sr. Advocate, with

Paras Talwar, Advocate, for the petitioner. Rajeev Anand, APP, for respondent 3.

Manreet Singh Nagra, AAG, Punjab.

Neeraj Poswal, AAG, Haryana.

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