Delhi High Court directs Rs 50,000 as compensation to be drawn from salaries of errant policemen for illegal detention for half an hour

delhi high court

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed by the petitioner seeking compensation for his illegal arrest and detention in the police lock-up on 02-09-2022 at Police Station Badarpur. Subramonium Prasad, J., held that even though the illegal detention was for half an hour, it is directed that Rs. 50,000 to be drawn from the salaries of the errant police officials and paid as compensation to the petitioner.

On 02-09-2022, a complaint was received at PS Badarpur stating that ‘lady ko sbzi wale ne chaku maar diya h’. It is stated that the lady was not sent for any medical examination nor was her statement recorded, however, SI Rajeev Gautam brought the petitioner to the Police Station and placed him in lock-up without any formal arrest/FIR or DD entry. Pursuant to the said incident, the Petitioner filed a complaint to the Commissioner of Police (Headquarters), but no action was taken against the erring officers. Stating complete inaction on the part of the Police on the complaint made by the Petitioner regarding his illegal detention in a police lock-up without any formal arrest, the Petitioner has approached this by filing the instant writ petition claiming compensation.

The Court noted that even though it was for a short period of time, the Petitioner was deprived of his personal liberty, a right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is evident that the authorities acted in a high-handed manner without respecting the petitioner’s liberty and placed him in lock-up without following due procedure of law or the principles that have been laid down when an arrest is made. The Court stated “This Court is deeply troubled by the fact that the Petitioner was not even arrested. He was simply picked up from the spot, brought to the Police Station, and placed inside the lock-up for no rhyme or reason.”

The Court further noted that the highhanded way in which the police authorities have acted, throwing to wind the constitutional and fundamental rights of a citizen, is appalling. This Court is troubled at the way the citizens are being treated by the Police authorities who behave as if they are above the law. A punishment of censure alone is not sufficient in the facts and circumstances of this case. Placing reliance on D K Basu v. State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416 and Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746, the Court observed that in cases where there can be no dispute of facts, the constitutional courts have the power to award compensation in case a person has been deprived of his life and liberty without following the procedure established by law.

Thus, the Court concluded that a punishment of censure which is not likely to have any effect on the career of the police officers will not be a sufficient deterrent to the officer. The censure should be of such nature that other officers too must not emulate such actions in the future. A meaningful message must be sent to the authorities that police officers cannot be law unto themselves.

Thus, the Court directed Rs 50,000 as compensation to the petitioner, even though the illegal detention of the Petitioner was only for about half an hour.

[Pankaj Kumar Sharma v GNCTD, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 6215, decided on 05-10-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Dhruv Gupta, Advocate for petitioner

Ms. Hetu Arora Sethi, ASC for GNCTD with Mr. Arjun Basra, Advocate for R-1 to 3

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One comment

  • Good decision. It is most disturbing why supreme court is shy on imposing such high cost on cbi and ED

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