Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court (Dharwad Bench): Suraj Govindaraj, J. while deciding a matter regarding handcuffing of an accused during arrest, held that “handcuffing should be by way of last resort and such handcuffing should mainly be only for the reason of whether there is a possibility of the accused and/or under trial prisoner escaping custody, causing harm to himself or causing harm to others.

Some disputes had arisen between a law student studying in Shikshan Prasrak Mandals Law College at Raibag (‘the petitioner’) and Babu Annappa regarding a mortgage deed executed in respect of agricultural lands belonging to the petitioner. Due to this, five criminal cases were filed against the petitioner for offences under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 on account of dishonour of cheques issued in pursuance of the said mortgage. Pursuant to this, the petitioner was arrested by the Respondent 3- Police Sub-Inspector, Ankali Police Station after a non-bailable warrant was issued Thereafter, he was allegedly paraded with handcuffs in Ankali Town and later on was taken in a bus in handcuffs from Ankali to Chikodi Police Station, without being produced before the Court.

Later on, the petitioner’s bail application was rejected, and he was remanded to judicial custody. He appealed the order of conviction which was thereby stayed The petitioner alleged that despite the conviction being stayed, he was repeatedly harassed by the police as they would illegally arrest or detain him, visit his house, and threaten him. Thus, the petitioner filed the present writ petition seeking relief in nature of compensation under Articles 226 and 227 of Constitution of India, for the damage caused to his life and reputation due to illegal detention and illegal handcuffing even prior to the petitioner being proven guilty.

Issues framed by the Court:

1. Whether the accused who is arrested can be handcuffed? If so, under what circumstances?

2. If there is any violation by the Arresting Officer, would the accused be eligible for compensation?

3. On what basis is the compensation required to be determined and paid?

4. Whether the accused suffered damage to his life and reputation or not? If yes, then what amount of compensation should be awarded?

Relevant Statutory Provisions regarding Arrest and Handcuffing

A perusal of Section 46 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ‘CrPC’ indicates that a person can be arrested by touching or confining the body of the person to be arrested, unless there is a submission to custody by word or action. It is only when there is a resistance to the arrest or evasion of arrest that the Police Officer may use all means necessary to effect the arrest.

Section 49 CrPC indicates that a person arrested shall not be subjected to more restraint than is necessary to prevent his escape. Therefore, it is the requirement of law that the restraint has to be reasonable and only to the extent that the person does not escape from custody.

Section 220 of Penal Code, 1860 ‘IPC’ indicates that if a person who has legal authority to confine a person, confines such a person contrary to law, he shall be punishable with imprisonment, which may extend to seven years or with fine or with both.

Sections 831, 832, 833, 834 and 835 of the Karnataka Police Manual provide for instructions for using handcuffs. A perusal of the said provisions would indicate that the prisoner should not be normally handcuffed, unless he is violent or disorderly or circumstances necessitate such handcuffing. In the event of an accused is handcuffed, the facts and reasons for it is required to be recorded in the Station House Dairy.

Analysis and Findings:

Reliance was placed on Prem Shankar Shukla v. Delhi Administration, (1980) 3 SCC 526 and Antonio Sebastiao Mervyn Degbertde Piedade Pacheco v. State of Goa 2008 (6) AIR Bom R 585 and observed that normally during arrest an accused cannot be handcuffed. Only under extreme or exceptional circumstances, such as violent tendencies or the possibility of escape, can an accused be handcuffed. Furthermore, there are some requirements to be fulfilled by the authorities in such a case:

  • When an accused is handcuffed, the Arresting Officer is required to record the reasons for handcuffing, which would have to sustain the scrutiny of the Court.

  • Whenever an accused is produced before the Court of law, it would be required of the Court to enquire if the accused had been handcuffed or not and if handcuffed, to ascertain the reasons recorded by the Arresting Officer on the justifiability on the same.

Thus, the court held that “handcuffing should be by way of last resort and such handcuffing should mainly be only for the reason of whether there is a possibility of the accused and/or under trial prisoner escaping custody, causing harm to himself or causing harm to others. The nature of offences and the punishment prescribed for the said offence are not relevant for the matter of handcuffing.

Dealing with the issue regarding compensation, reliance was placed on D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC 416 and Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa (1993) 2 SCC 746 and observed that “if there is a violation by the Arresting officer in putting handcuffs on the petitioner, the petitioner would be eligible for compensation”. Thus, in the present case, the State is responsible for compensating the petitioner and the amount of damage is to be calculated on the basis of any evidence and documents produced by the petitioner.

Regarding the third issue, the court held that there are a few considerations that have to be made while awarding the compensation, these considerations are as follows:

  • The court should take into consideration the loss/damage that might have been caused to the person who has been handcuffed.

  • The court should also consider the imposition of compensation as a deterrent to the Police Officers who do not discharge their duties in a proper manner and/or violate the applicable law. Additionally, although the State would be required to pay the compensation, the State would be at liberty to recover the same from the concerned defaulter(s).

Thus, the court observed that “Compensation which is required to be paid as aforesaid being a Public Law Remedy, there cannot be a straitjacket formula which could determine the amount of compensation that has to be paid. Be that as it may. The compensation which is required to be paid is by applying the principles of strict liability.

Lastly, the court held that the evidence provided by the petitioner does not sufficiently prove that the petitioner was paraded in handcuffs and his reputation has been as immensely damaged as he claims. Thus, for the procedural irregularity of handcuffing, the petitioner was awarded Rs. 2 lakhs as compensation as opposed to Rs 25 lakhs which was originally demanded.

[Suprit Ishwar Divate v. State of Karnataka, 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 1133 decided on 10-06-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Santosh P. Pujari, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Praveen K. Uppar, Advocate, for the Respondent.

Karnataka High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: S. Sunil Dutt Yadav, J. enlisted a few causes of delay in investigation, the principal causes of low rate of conviction, consequences of delay in the investigation along with guidelines for speedy investigation.

The petitioner filed a private complaint under Section 200 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) with the prayer to secure the presence of the accused and deal with him in accordance with law. It mainly hits the fact that that though the Special Judge had passed an order on 21-9-2017 referring to the matter in exercise of power under Section 156(3) of CrPC, till date, no final report was filed. In light of the narration of the life of the litigation, clearly, there has been delay in completion of the investigation. It is noticed that there have been delays caused due to lack of coordination between different Departments, viz., the Prosecution and the Income Tax Department (as the diary in possession of the Income Tax Department was not handed over to the Prosecution promptly till direction was issued by the trial Court), report of the FSL as regards handwriting found in the diary was not obtained in time. The accused has also taken several opportunities to submit his response to the notices issued by the Prosecution. The delay in investigation stands out in the present case.

The Court enlisted few causes of delay in investigation, the principal causes of low rate of conviction, and consequences of delay in the investigation. The Court also noted the legislative framework relating to the speedy investigation, i.e., Sections 157, 167, 167 (5), 173 of CrPC and Orders 1550, 1550 (2), 1551 (2), 1551 (3) of Karnataka Police Manual. It also discussed regarding witness protection and supervision of Investigation under Section 156(3) of CrPC in detail through judicial precedents.

Guidelines for speedy Investigation:

i) Offences may be categorized into (a) petty offences (b) serious offences and (c) heinous offences. As regards petty offences, time limit of 60 days could be fixed for completion of investigation which could be extended by the Special Judge/Magistrate upon request made, assigning reasons for extension of time for investigation to be completed. As regards serious and heinous offences, time limit of 90 days could be stipulated with provision to extend such time period upon request by the Special Judge / Magistrate upon reasons being made out.

ii) In the event the investigation is not completed within the time prescribed and the superior officer is of the opinion that there are no justifiable reasons for completion of the investigation, power can be exercised under Section 36 of CrPC by the Superior Officer.

iii) The Magistrate / Special Judge can invoke power under Section 156(3) of CrPC to ensure investigation is expeditious and pass appropriate directions where the investigation appears to be procrastinated to the prejudice of the complainant and would have the effect of derailing the investigation. The Magistrate can upon application filed or otherwise seek report from the concerned authority as regards delay in investigation.

(iv) Where grievance relates to non-registration of first information report and application under 156(3) has been filed, same may be disposed off within a period preferably not exceeding thirty days as relief sought for it is relating to non-registration of FIR.

(v) The Magistrate at the stage of extension of remand under Section 167 of CrPC could enquire regarding stage of Investigation.

vi) Many a time the prosecutor is required to take a call on need for examination of multiple witnesses. Once any one witness is examined on a particular aspect and if the evidence is clear and not shaky, the summoning of additional witnesses is to be avoided, as summoning multiple witnesses to speak on the same aspect results in prolonging trial and gives room to the defense to exploit contradictions amongst witnesses speaking on the same aspect.

vii) Setting up separate investigation wing with dedicated personnel in police stations with necessary training imparted so as to inculcate professionalism in investigation.

viii) Personnel involved may be subjected to training relating to modus operandi in commission of crime, strategies of unearthing crimes and their detection, and steps to be taken to familiarize them with necessary knowledge relating to technology involved in commission of cyber crimes, money laundering and corruption offences.

ix) In the event of failure to complete investigation in an expeditious manner provisions under Section 20(C) and 20(D) of the Karnataka Police Act can be invoked and a complaint could be made to the State and District Police Complaint Authority. In fact, delay in completing investigation can be a ground to invoke Section 20(C) in terms of the Explanation to Section 20(C)(7). This would ensure accountability of the investigating officers.

x) The delay in investigation and consequent delay in trial, places the complainant as well as the witnesses in a vulnerable position and the protection mechanism requires to be evolved.

xi) Necessary efforts for bifurcation of law and order, and crime investigation as regards personnel need to be implemented.

xii) In order to overcome fear and reluctance on the part of public to be arraigned as witnesses, steps must be taken to implement the Witness Protection Scheme.

xiii) Necessary mechanism needs to be designed to implement the mandate of Order No.1550, 1550 (2), 1551 (2) and (3) of the Karnataka Police Manual.

xiv) The Authorities concerned may consider having provisions for the purpose of speedy and effective investigation by framing Regulations in lines of Police Regulations Bengal, 1943.

xv) In cases involving influential public personalities, resort to Section 164 CrPC should be made more frequently.

xvi) While investigation of offences under the provisions of CrPC is the exclusive domain of the police, the Judicial Magistrate should have role to play to counter the moves of persons in influential positions to subvert the effective process of investigation.  Accordingly, the I.O. shall bring to the notice of Magistrate the bottlenecks, if any, that are coming in the way of speedy investigation including the attempts being made by the accused to hinder the investigation. The Magistrate shall, apart from taking such steps as are permissible under law, for example, issuing summons for the production of documents in the custody of suspect/accused/or a third party, may also send a report to the District Judge for appropriate action on the administrative side to eliminate delays.

(xvii) The State is required to take steps for the implementation of the Witness Protection Scheme in terms of the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Mahender Chawla v. Union of India, (2019) 14 SCC 615, as well as the direction in the order dated 01.12.2020 passed in W.P.No.10240/2020 which is a suo motu writ petition pending before this court. Further, the Judicial Officers are also required to take note of the mandate of the directions of the order dated 01.12.2020.

The Court directed the Investigation Agency to look into the observations as may be applicable and asked The Registrar General, High Court of Karnataka, Bengaluru to send a copy of this order to i) The Director-General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka. ii) The Secretary, Home Department and iii) The Director, Prosecution Department. List these matters in due course. [Sujit v. Superintendant of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 912, decided on 17-05-2022]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.