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

Hot Off The PressNews

Cause of Suo Motu Cognizance

The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, two policemen got involved in a squabble at a ‘dhaba’ (eatery) over payment of bill for the food they consumed. The policemen then falsely implicated and arrested ten people including the brother of the owner of the eatery and eight customers in an alleged encounter with them. The persons reportedly arrested by the police are presently lodged in judicial custody.

To whom did NHRC issue a notice?

The Commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a report in the matter within six weeks. A copy of the these proceedings has also been sent to the Member Secretary, Uttar Pradesh State Legal Aid Services Authority to ensure free legal aid to the arrested people, if not provided.

Violation of Human Rights?

Issuing the notice the Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of Human Rights. The incident, apparently, is a classic example of failure of entire system of checks and balances. Hence, fair investigation is required to be conducted to know where the policemen could manage to procure these items.

What did the media report consist of?

According to the media report, carried on 23.03.2021, the owner of the eatery alleged that on 04.02.2021, two policemen, who were on duty, came and had food at his dhaba and later refused to pay the bill of Rs.400/-. The policemen, reportedly offered only Rs.80/- and the brother of the owner asked them to pay at least Rs.200/-. Some of the customers, present at that time, also asked the policemen to pay the bill. An argument reportedly took place and the policemen started beating the brother of the owner of the eatery. After this the policemen left the place.

After some time, around fifteen policemen reportedly arrived in three vehicles, pointed guns and took away the brother and the cousin of the eatery owner, as well as eight customers with them to the Kotwali (Rural) Police Station and an FIR, was registered against them.

The owner of the eatery, who is specially-abled, was reportedly, spared by the police. The persons arrested by the police are lodged in judicial custody and as per the FIR, ten people, part of a gang, were hatching a plan to commit a crime of loot and the police caught them after an encounter. Six illegal weapons, eighty liters illicit liquor and 2 kg contraband had been reportedly projected as recovered from the persons arrested by the police.

The Additional Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh has reportedly asked the Senior Superintendent of Police, Etah to get an investigation conducted in a time bound manner. The District Magistrate of Etah has also ordered probe into the incident as mentioned in the news report. It is also mentioned in the news report that the Station House Officer of the Kotwali Dehat police station has been placed under suspension.

National Human Rights Commisssion

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Madras High Court: A Division Bench of N. Kirubakaran and R. Hemalatha, JJ. while hailing and appreciating the round the clock service of Corona warriors asked the authorities concerned to subject the doctors, health workers, sanitisation workers, policemen  to regular testing.

Petitions have been filed pertaining to seeking

  • direction to respondent to provide and ensure medical assistance irrespective of all COVID-19 affected patients at free of cost
  • Direction to respondent 2 to constitute a State Level Executive Committee to assist the State Government/State Disaster Management Authority to perform its functions in preventing & controlling the COVID-19 and constitute a District level Disaster Management Committee to prevent and control the COVID -19 and direct the respondent 2 to notify and approve the ‘COVID-19’ isolated wards in Government & Private Hospitals with free of costs for treatment and testing and handling all suspected persons who arrived from foreign country 01.03.2020 onwards, keep them into special quarantine camps.
  • provide personal protective equipments (PPE) especially for doctors, nurses and hospital staffs in COVID-19 wards
  • to quarantine a section among the workforce of essential services for future catastrophe of COVID-19.

Petitioners counsel submitted that, so far no Community kitchens have been opened. Also sufficient number of masks and PPEs are not available.

Additional Advocate General on behalf of the respondents submitted the number of PPEs and masks along with testing kits available, adding to the said he submitted that supply is regularly coming and numbers are increasing.

With regard to non-supply of food, it was submitted that, Rs 1000 is being given to the people holding ration card and free ration and groceries is also being provided. Thus, nobody is suffering for want of food.

Another point submitted by petitioner’s counsel was that, about 45,000 persons including 100 Doctors and 3500 Para Medical Staffs have registered for voluntary service, their services are not being utilized. In the said regard, AAG submitted that he would verify the same and inform the Court in next hearing.

Court concerned with health condition of Doctors, Health Workers, Sanitary Workers and policemen stated that they should be given break sufficiently.

They should also be subjected to regular testing by the Authorities.

Bench stated that,

Court hails and appreciates the round the clock service rendered by Doctors, Health Workers, Sanitary workers and Policemen in the fight against dangerous pandemic which is threatening the entire humanity.

Thus, Court hopes and expects the respective government would appreciate the warriors and their services with increase in their salaries. Matter to be listed in 2 weeks.[S. Jimraj Milton v. Union of India,  2020 SCC OnLine Mad 916, decided on 09-04-2020]