Tripura High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: In a public interest litigation concerning custodial torture on a 28-year-old woman in the police lockup, the division bench of Indrajit Mahanty, CJ. and S.G. Chattopadhyay, J. took suo motu notice of this grave and serious issue based on the newspaper report and observed that the victim was not formally arrested by police, but she was detained in police custody for a considerable period for the purpose of interrogation. Further, the medical reports clearly established that she was physically assaulted in custody, thus, directed the State to pay compensation to her.

The Court observed that from the facts and circumstances, merely based on a telephonic information received from the victim’s neighbour about her involvement in a theft case, police called her to the police station even without registering a case on the complaint received from the neighbour and without verifying the facts. Further, the medical reports clearly established that she was physically assaulted during interrogation in police custody.

The Court took note of the ruling in Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746, wherein the Court held that “the prison authority and the police would have the responsibility to ensure that the person in custody is not deprived of his right to life, even if his liberty is circumscribed by the fact that the person is in confinement”.

It also took note of the ruling in Mehmood Nayyar Azam v. State of Chhattisgarh, (2012) 8 SCC 1, wherein it was held that “the police officers are under obligations to protect human rights of a person in custody and prevent all forms of atrocities to him/her”. It further referred to the decision in Ashwani Kumar v. Union of India, (2020) 13 SCC 585, wherein the Court reiterated that “a person detained in custody is entitled to live with human dignity and any form of torture would violate the right to life and is prohibited under Article 21 of the Constitution“.

Placing reliance on the decision in D.K. Basu v. State of W.B., (1997) 1 SCC 416, wherein the Court laid down the directions/guidelines with respect to rights of persons arrested/detained in police custody for interrogation; the Court has observed that the victim was not formally arrested by police but, undisputedly, she was detained in police custody for a considerable period for the purpose of interrogation. Thus, she was entitled to all the safeguards provided under the guidelines issued in the case of D.K. Basu (supra), but, apparently, she was deprived of those safeguards, and she was tortured and maltreated in police custody.

The Court viewed that the victim is entitled to monetary compensation for the wrongs done to her, thus, directed the State to pay a sum of Rs. 2,50,000/- to her.

[Court on its own motion v. State of Tripura, 2022 SCC OnLine Tri 635, decided on 21.09.2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioner: Amicus Curiae A. Debbarma

For Respondent: Government Advocate D. Bhattacharya,

Advocate S. Saha

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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.

Criminal Act

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