Custodial Torture

Supreme Court of India
  CASE NO.:Writ Petition (crl.)  237 of 1998

PETITIONER:Sube Singh

RESPONDENT:State of Haryana & Ors.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/02/2006

BENCH:CJI, B. N. Srikrishna & R. V. Raveendran

JUDGMENT:J U D G M E N T

R.V. RAVEENDRAN, J.
          An undated letter from the petitioner, received by this Court
on 19.11.1998, alleging illegal detention, custodial torture and
harassment to family members was registered as a writ petition
under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The State of Haryana
and its Director General of Police, were arrayed as respondents 1
and 2 and the six Police Officers referred to in the letter-petition
were arrayed as respondent Nos.3 to 8.
PROLOGUE (According to Police)

2. On 10.3.1998, at about 10 a.m. Dharam Singh ASI, Police
Post Dhamtan Saheb (Narwana Tehsil, Jind District), along with
Police constables (Ramesh Chand, Jaldhir Singh and Baljit Singh),
while patrolling near Dhamtan Saheb Bus Stand, received
information that one Joginder Singh (son of petitioner) and his
associates were conspiring in his house, to apply pressure on some
tender-bidders.  When the police party proceeded towards Joginder
Singhs house, they saw two young men coming from the opposite
side, on a motorcycle. On seeing the Police party, the motorcycle
suddenly turned back. On suspicion, the Police party gave chase
and stopped the motorcycle near a petrol-pump. The ASI asked the
motorcyclist and the pillion-rider to identify themselves. The
motorcyclist gave his name as Amrik Singh. The pillion-rider gave
his name as Joginder Singh, a Palledar at Tohana. When the ASI
asked Joginder Singh as to whether he was the same Joginder who
had jumped parole in a case, Joginder Singh started running. When 
the Police party chased him, Joginder Singh turned back, whipped
out a pistol and fired at them. Baljit Singh, one of the Constables,
was hit and collapsed. In the ensuing confusion, both Amrik Singh
and Joginder Singh escaped. The injured Constable succumbed to
the bullet injuries. In this connection, FIR No.112 dated 10.3.1998
under Section 302/307/352/186 IPC was registered in P.S., Garhi,
against Joginder Singh and Amrik Singh. On receiving information
of the death of constable, the SP and the DSP rushed to the
hospital and later, went to the Dhamtan Saheb Police Post. In the
meantime, the Police party which had gone to the house of
Joginder, in search of him, did not find him and brought his father
Sube Singh (Petitioner) to the Police Station. According to police,
the SDM and the Chairman of Zila Parishad, Jind, were also present
at the Police Post at that time. The petitioner denied any
knowledge of the whereabouts of his son Joginder. The SP made
some enquiries with the petitioner and left. After inquiries, the
petitioner was released.

2.1) The petitioner along with his brother-in-law Rattan Singh filed
W.P. (Crl.) No.416/1998 in the Punjab & Haryana High Court on
24.3.1998 alleging harassment, torture and illegal detention for
three days (from 10.3.1998 to 13.3.1998) and again for a day
(15.3.1998 to 16.3.1998) and prayed for action against the
concerned Police Officers and for a judicial enquiry. The High Court
by order dated 27.4.1998 disposed of the petition with an
observation that petitioners may file a criminal complaint in a
competent court.

2.2) The petitioner went underground for a few months. Further
enquiries by the police revealed that several cases had been
registered against the petitioner and his son Joginder Singh.
Joginder was declared as proclaimed offender by order dated
12.6.1998 of S.D.J.M., Narwana. The petitioner published a notice
in Dainik Tribune dated 6.8.1998 that he had disowned his son
Joginder and was not responsible for his actions.

2.3) The Police continued with their inquiries and in July, 1998, 
ASI Satya Narayan and other Police Officers of Dhamtan Saheb
Police Post again tried to ascertain his whereabouts by making
enquiries with the petitioner and his relatives/friends.

The Letter  (re : alleged torture and illegal detention)

3. The petitioner sent an undated letter to this Court (received
on 19.11.1998) wherein he  alleged that ASI Dharam Singh, In-
charge of Dhamtan Saheb Police Post, along with some Police
Officers, came to his house on 10.3.1998 at about 11 a.m, to
enquire about the whereabouts of his son Joginder; and that when
he informed them that he was not aware of it, they started beating
him. Thereafter, the Police took him, his wife and two minor
daughters forcibly to the Police Post, through the bazaar. He was
beaten with sticks on the way. When they reached the Police Post,
K.P. Singh, Superintendent of Police as also the Deputy
Superintendent of Police, Narwana, were present. When ASI
Dharam Singh informed them that the persons brought were the
father, mother and sisters of Joginder, the S.P. directed that they
may be brought to correct mental attitude. The ASI took him
inside and beat him for about 10 minutes and brought him back
before the SP again. By then, his wife and daughters were made to
sit in an uncomfortable posture (as students are made to sit in
schools by way of punishment). When the petitioner stated that he
was not aware of his sons whereabouts, the S.P. became furious
and ordered his men to remove his moustache, whereupon Dharam
Singh sat on his chest (with three policemen pressing his hands
and feet)  and plucked his moustache. Again, they started beating
him, searched his pockets and took away Rs.2,350 which he was
carrying. Then the police took him back to his house and ransacked
the house. ASI Dharam Singh broke open the lock of his trunk and
seized his licensed gun, some cartridges and Arms licence, as also
some jewellery  found in the trunk. Thereafter, the petitioner was
taken back to the Police Post. Though his wife and daughters were
sent back to the house, he was illegally detained in Police custody
for a day and then taken to P.S. Garhi where he was kept for 10
days and during the first 5 days of such detention, he was regularly
beaten. Because of such police harassment and torture, when he
was released he and his younger son Gurmail Singh fled from his
house.

3.1) On 8.7.1998, the petitioner returned to his house. Satya
Narayan, ASI, (who had succeeded Dharam Singh) and Munshi
(HC) of Dhamtan Police Post, came to his house, with four other
policemen, handcuffed him and took him to the Police Post. He was
tortured in the Police Post by the ASI and Head Constable Munshi
by thrashing him thrice, each time continuously for 15 minutes.
When he requested for water, he was forced to drink hot water
with salt. The Munshi, Dhamtan Police Post kept him in a wooden
Shikanza for 5 days and he was not allowed to sleep. Then he was
taken to Jind.  He also alleged that the Police forced him to bring
money for the vehicles to conduct raids (to catch his son, Joginder)
and he was forced to accompany them on such raids and was put
in wooden Shikanza at Tulvan Thana.  When he begged that he
should be released, he was informed that he was being taken for
the raids on the instructions of Ranbir Sharma, S.P., Jind, and that
without the permission of the S.P., he could not be released. After
three days he was again taken back to Dhamtan Post and kept
there for 2 days. Thereafter, he was released with a condition to
visit the Police Post everyday in the morning and evening.

3.2) The Petitioner alleged that his friends and relatives who
wanted to meet him, when he was being illegally detained, were
not permitted to meet him and they were also tortured. He also
alleged that Munshi (HC) of Dhamtan Police Post was demanding
money from him.

3.3) He alleged that in view of such torture, he was forced to
leave his house and remain outside. He prayed for a direction to
the Police to stop the atrocities and torture. He sought
compensation for himself and his wife and daughters for the social,
physical and financial loss, and return of his licensed gun, gold
ornaments and other belongings. He also prayed for a thorough
inquiry into the atrocities and torture committed by the Police and
imposition of punishment to those  who were responsible.

3.4)  The letter of the petitioner was registered as a writ petition
and Rule was issued on 11.1.1999. On 13.9.2000, this Court
appointed Mr. S. Muralidhar, Advocate, as Amicus Curiae, to assist
the Court.

The alleged Second Round of Harassment :

4. Joginder was arrested in June, 1999 by Punjab Police. Before
his arrest, he was allegedly involved in two robberies (registered on
19.3.1999 with PS, City Yamunanagar, and on 21.3.1999 with PS,
Indri, Karnal District). On 25.1.2001, when he was being taken to
Ferozepur Court from Ambala jail, Joginder escaped from police
custody. It is further alleged by the police that on 13.2.2001,
Joginder and his associates murdered two residents of Tohana.  

4.1) According to Police, on 29.1.2001, the SHO, Police Station,
Garhi along with other police officials visited the house of petitioner
in search of Joginder who had escaped from custody. Again in
February, 2001 after the double murder, the S.I. of Police Station,
Tohana along with the ASI in charge of Dhamtan Saheb Police Post,
and other Police officials visited petitioners house in search of
Joginder. In that connection, petitioner and his brother were taken
to Police Station Tohana on 14.2.2001 for inquiries and were
released on the same day. They were again called for inquiries on
the next day. On 22.6.2001, the Officer in Charge of Police Post,
Patiala Chowk, Jind, searched the house of Minti Devi (sister of
Joginder), to find out whether Joginder was hiding there. On
24.6.2001, petitioners younger son Gurmail Singh was arrested for
possessing illegal arms. 
4.2) The petitioner filed an affidavit dated 22.2.2001 before this
Court on 3.3.2001 alleging interrogation by Police on 26.1.2001
and 29.1.2001 in regard to escape of his son Joginder from Police
custody. He also alleged that on 14.2.2001 he and his brother
Narsi were handcuffed and taken to Tohana Police Station and
interrogated and released on 15.2.2001. The S.P. Jind filed a
detailed reply affidavit dated 11.8.2001. A further affidavit was
filed by the petitioner on 1.10.2001 wherein he alleged that his
younger son Gurmail Singh was forcibly taken from his sisters
house on 22.6.2001 and tortured. This brought forth a further
affidavit dated 20.11.2001 from the S.P., Jind, by way of reply
denying the allegations.

PROCEEDINGS IN THIS COURT :

5. Not being satisfied with the reply-affidavit filed on behalf of
the State, in regard to the letter-petition, this Court on 9.11.2000
directed the Chief Secretary of the State of Haryana to file a
detailed affidavit in regard to the steps taken on the allegations
made by the petitioner. In view of it, the State got the matter
inquired into by Dr. John V. George, Inspector General of Police,
(Law & Order), Haryana. He submitted a report dated 10.3.2001
stating that the allegations of the petitioner relating to police
torture, illegal detention, harassment to wife and daughters, and
removal of cash/licensed weapon/jewellery were not substantiated.
The said report, however, confirmed that petitioner and his brother
were called to the Police Station couple of times for interrogation
regarding the whereabouts of Joginder. Not being satisfied with the
said report, this Court on 17.10.2001 directed the CBI to inquire
into the matter with reference to the allegations made in the letter
as also the subsequent affidavits filed by the petitioner and his
relatives and the reply affidavits filed by the respondents.

5.1) The CBI held a preliminary inquiry and submitted the report
of the Inquiry Officer (A.K. Ohri, ASP) under cover of its letter
dated 22.7.2002. The findings in the said report are arrived at, on
the basis of the allegations made in the affidavits filed before this
Court, and the statements made by the petitioner, his family
members and others (nearly 100 witnesses) before the Inquiry
Officer. The CBI has concluded that some of the allegations of the
petitioner were substantiated while several others were not
substantiated.

5.2) On 16.9.2002, this Court directed that the State Government
to take appropriate action on the report of the CBI. In pursuance of
it, an FIR was lodged in Garhi Police Station, Jind District, (FIR
No.152 dated 17.10.2002 under Sections 323, 342, 343, 365 and
384 IPC) on the basis of the CBI report, naming the following 10
officers :-
1. ASI Dharam Singh (by then S.I.)
2. ASI Satyanarain 238/Jind
3. HC Om Parkash No.102/Jind (by then ASI)
4. Const. Dilbag Singh, No.59/Jind
5. HC Balbir Singh No.450/Jind
6. Const. Sudarshan Kumar No.811/Jind
7. Const. Mukesh Kumar No.99/Jind
8. Const. Dhoop Singh No.704/Jind
9. Const. Dharam Pal No.4/Jind
10. Const. Mohinder Singh 825/Jind (by then HC)

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Narwana, filed an affidavit
dated 1.11.2002 confirming that FIR was lodged and that he was
investigating  into the matter.

5.3) On 11.11.2002, this Court noted that the FIR was registered
and an appropriate chargesheet would be filed by the State in due
course, and that the officers concerned have been
suspended/posted outside the district. This Court also took note of
the submission of the amicus curiae that in such cases, apart from
CBI inquiry and criminal prosecution, compensation has to be
awarded to the victims, and the submission of the State that
having regard to the facts of the case and having regard to the
registration of the FIR, the matter may have to await the result of
the prosecution. While adjourning the case, this Court observed
that the question of awarding any compensation at that stage, did
not arise.

5.4) The SP, Jind, by affidavit dated 9.6.2003 informed this Court
that the charge-sheet was filed in the Court of Ilaka Magistrate,
Narwana, and that the case was fixed for 18.7.2003 for framing of
charge. Thereafter, when the matter came up on 4.8.2003, the
amicus curiae again submitted that compensation should be
awarded. This Court directed hearing on the limited question as to
whether compensation should be awarded or not. The criminal
court was also directed to expedite the trial. The criminal case
against the Police officers, we are informed,  is under progress.

5.5) Thereafter, arguments on the question as to whether
compensation should be awarded or not were heard on 6.10.2005
and written arguments were submitted by the Amicus Curiae and 
the State on 19.10.2005 and 16.11.2005 respectively.

(Preliminary) Inquiry Report of CBI :

6. The findings contained in the report of CBI are summarized
below :-

Allegations by Petitioner (and his
relatives)

Finding by C.B.I.

1.       Incident on 10.3.1998

1.1.  Petitioner   was  tortured   at
Dhamtan Saheb Police Post on
10.3.1998 on the directions of 
Mr. K. P. Singh, Superintendent
of Police, Jind and Mr. Praveen
Kumar Mehta, DSP, Jind.
Not substantiated
1.2 On 10.3.1998 Dharam Singh ASI
took cash of Rs.2,350/- from the
pocket of the petitioner and
Rs.4,700/- from the pocket of his
friend Narender Singh.

READ  K.R.SOORACHARI vs STATE OF KARNATAKA

Not substantiated
1.3    Dharam Singh,  ASI, took   away
the licensed gun, cartridges and
jewellery from the house of
petitioner, on 10.3.1998.
Not substantiated by
any independent
witness.

1.4 Dharam Singh,  ASI, Incharge of
Dhamtan Saheb Police Post along
with other Police officials picked
up the Petitioner and his friend
Sardar Narender Singh on
10.3.1998 and took them to the
Police Post and beat them on the
way.
Substantiated

1.5    Om Prakash (H.C., PS, Garhi) and
Dilbag Singh, Sentry, beat
petitioner on 11.3.1998.
Substantiated (But no
injury report or medical
report is available.)
2.      Illegal detention.
2.1.  Petitioner  was  arrested  on
10.3.1998 and taken to Police
Station Garhi on 11.3.1998
where he was illegally detained
for 10 days and beaten during
first 5 days.

Detention of petitioner at
P.S. Garhi for some days
was substantiated by an
oral evidence of accused in
an Excise Case (Amarinder
Singh).

2.2.    Rattan     Singh     alias      Ratna
(brother in law of petitioner) was
picket up on 10.3.1998 and kept
illegally at P.S. Garhi and
tortured for 2 days. He was again
arrested on 16.3.1998, tortured
for 4 days and released on
20.3.1998.

Picking up of Rattan Singh
a few days after 10.3.1998
is established. However,
alleged torture and
wrongful confinement is
supported only by his self
statement and not by any
medical or other evidence.

[Note: However, in the writ petition filed by Rattan Singh and
petitioner on 24.3.1998 in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, it is
alleged that petitioner and Rattan Singh were kept in illegal 
confinement from 10.3.1998 to 13.3.1998 and again from 15.3.1998
to 16.3.1998. There is no allegation of any torture at all. They only
alleged that they apprehended  harassment and torture by Police.) 
3.    Incidents  between  8.7.1998 and 7.11.1998

3.1  Munshi (HC),  in-charge   of
Dhamtan Saheb Police Post
handcuffed petitioner and took
the petitioner to Police Post on
8.7.1998.

Substantiated
3.2 Satya Narayan, ASI, harassed
petitioner between 8.7.1998 and
7.11.1998.

Substantiated
3.3   Satya Narayan, ASI,  demanded
money from the petitioner and
took money from petitioner, for
fuel for the vehicle used to
conduct raids.

Not Substantiated
3.4     Satya Narayan ASI took 10 kg. of
Desi Ghee from petitioners
brother Narsi.

Not Substantiated
3.5 Satya Narayan, ASI, had
detained Shamsher Singh in
police custody.

Substantiated
3.6 Satya Narayan, ASI,  tortured
Shamsher Singh and took
Rs.500/- to release him.

Not substantiated.
4.       Re : Incidents in the year 2001

4.1   SHO, Police Station, Garhi along
with other police officials raided
the petitioners house in January,
2001 and intentionally flashed a
torch light on the faces of his
young daughters.
Not substantiated.
(What is established is
that SHO, PS, Garhi raided
the petitioners house on
the night of 31.1.01 to
check whether Joginder
who had escaped from
police custody was at the
house. A torch light was
used as there was no
electricity.)

4.2   On 14.2.01, SHO, Police Station
City, Tohana along with other
police officials had handcuffed
the petitioner and his brother
Narsi and detained for a day.

Not substantiated.
(However, what is
established is that the
petitioner and his brother
were taken to PS City
Tohana on 14.2.01, for
inquiries in connection
with the report that
petitioners son Joginder
Singh and his associates
had committed a double
murder on 14.2.01. After a
few hours of interrogation
they were released). 

4.3  On  22.6.01,  Gurmel  Singh,
younger son of petitioner was
picked up (by Constables Mukesh
Kumar and Dhup Singh in a
vehicle driven by Constable
Dharampal). He was  confined at
PS City, Jind and tortured.

Substantiated only to the
extent that Gurmel Singh
was picked up on 22.6.01
by police party and
wrongfully confined at PS
City, Jind. (In regard to
alleged torture, the
statement of Gurmel Singh
alone is available without
corroboration).

4.4    Yad  Ram,   Inspector,  when he
was SHO, PS Alewa forcibly
picked up one Ramphal on
26.7.01 and harassed him when
Ramphals house was raided on
29.7.01.
Not substantiated.
(What is established is Yad
Ram had taken Ramphal
on the instructions of ASP,
Jind and examined him for
an hour).

7. The report further shows that petitioner was involved in
several criminal cases from 1972 and his son Joginder was involved
in more number of criminal cases from the year 1991, as detailed
below :-
Cases in respect of petitioner : 

1. FIR No. 275 dt. 13.10.72 u/s 61/1/14 Excise Act P.S.
Sadar Kaithal.
2. FIR No.59 dt. 13.2.78 u/s 379 IPC PS Sadar Kaithal.
3. FIR No.231 dt. 22.7.85 u/s 25/54/59 Arms Act P.S.
Sadar Kaithal.
4. FIR No.141 dt. 20.7.86 u/s 61/1/14 Excise Act P.S.
Sadar Narwana.
5. FIR No.142 dt. 25.4.91 u/s 25/54/59 Arms Act read with
section 5 TADA Act P.S. Sadar Kaithal.
6. FIR No.147 dt. 25.4.91 u/s 285/336 I.P.C. P.S. Sadar
Kaithal.
7. FIR No.219 dt. 17.7.91 u/s 324/323/506/34 IPC PS
Sadar Kaithal.
8. FIR No.367 dt. 23.11.94 u/s 323/324/148/149 IPC PS
Garhi. 
9. FIR No.277 dt. 25.6.2001 u/s 332/353/225/186/511 IPC
PS City, Jind.

(Note: The petitioner was convicted only in the first case. He
was acquitted in all other cases.)
                                   

Cases in respect of Joginder Singh :

a) FIR No.219 dated 17.7.91 u/s 323/324/506/34 IPC PS
Sadar, Kaithal.
b) FIR No.395 dated 5.7.97 u/s 324/34 IPC PS Civil Lines,
Hissar.
c) FIR No.242 dated 7.9.96 u/s 307/120-B IPC & 25/54/59
Arms Act, PS City, Tohana.
d) FIR No.245 dated 8.9.96 u/s 25/54/59 Arms Act, PS
City, Tohana.
e) FIR No.112 dated 10.3.98 u/s 302/307/353/86/34 IPC &
25/54/59 Arms Act, PS Garhi..
f) FIR No.57 dated 31.3.99 u/s 392/395 IPC & 25/54/59
Arms Act, PS Indri, Karnal.
g) FIR No.99 dated 19.3.99 u/s 393/394/397/307/452 IPC,
PS City, Yamunanagar.
h) FIR No.94 dated 21.6.99 u/s 399/401 IPC, 25/54/59
Arms Act, PS Malanwala, Distt. Firozepur, Punjab.
i) FIR No.8 dated 26.1.2001 u/s 223/224 IPC, PS GRP,
Ludhiana, Punjab.
j) FIR NO.48 dated 14.2.2001 u/s 302/307/34 IPC and
25/54/59 Arms Act, PS City, Tohana.
k) FIR No.100 dated 16.2.2001 u/s 307/332/353/216 IPC
and 25/54/59 Arms Act, PS Sadar, Fatehabad.
l) FIR No.38 dated 21.2.2001 u/s399/307/402 IPC and
25/54/59 Arms Act, PS City, Narwana.
m) FIR No.29 dated 16.3.2001 u/s 307, 120-B IPC and
25/54/59 Arms Act, PS City, Firozepur, Punjab.
n) FIR NO.149 dated 23.8.2001 u/s 25/54/59 Arms Act, PS
Sadar, Kapurthala, Punjab.  

(Note : Joginder was convicted in regard to FIR 242/1996 and FIR
No.245/1996. Sl. No. (c) and (d) above on 31.1.2002 and
sentenced to undergo RI for six years and two years respectively)

Position emerging from the records/CBI Report/arguments:

8. A careful examination of the facts, lead to the following 
inferences :

i) All allegations (relating to petitioner and his family
members being taken to Police Stations/Police Posts and
being questioned/beaten up/tortured) are in connection
with the effort of Police to find the whereabouts of
Joginder Singh, whenever he was involved in a serious
incident, that is (a) incident on 10.3.1998 when Joginder
was suspected of killing a Police constable, (b) incident
on 25.1.2001 when Joginder escaped from Police
custody when he was being taken to court, and (c)
incident on 13/14.2.2001 when Joginder was suspected
of killing two persons at Tohana.

ii) Though there is some evidence of illegal detention and
beating of petitioner and his relatives, the allegations of
custodial torture are exaggerated and to a certain extent
false.

iii) There is no medical evidence nor any visible scars/
marks/disability resulting from the alleged torture,
either in the case of petitioner or his family
members/relatives.

iv) The complaints of petitioner and his relatives are against
different police officers of different police stations
(totally unconnected with each other) in regard to
incidents at different points of time, in March, 1998,
April, 1998, July, 1998, January, 2001, February, 2001
and June, 2001.

v) The case of Petitioner is that he and/or his relatives
were harassed, illegally confined, or tortured, to find out
the whereabouts of Joginder. The police contend that
the allegations by petitioner and his relatives, are by
way of a well conceived plot to prevent police
investigation in regard to misdeeds by Joginder and his
associates and to pre-empt any action by the police
against Joginder or his family members.

9. We will next refer to the factors which indicate that petitioner
and his relatives have made false and exaggerated claims in regard
to illegal detention, torture etc., apart from suppressing material
facts.

9.1) In his letter to this Court, petitioner has alleged that he was
illegally confined by the Police for 11 days from 10.3.1998 (one day
at Dhamtan Saheb Police Post and 10 days at Police Station,
Garhi). Rattan Singh (brother in law of petitioner) in his affidavit
dated 13.5.1999 alleges that he was illegally detained for 2 days
and again for 4 days. But in the writ petition filed by petitioner and
Rattan Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on  24.3.1998,
it is alleged that the petitioner and Rattan Singh were confined by
Police between 10.3.1998 and 13.3.1998 (three days) and again
for a day between 15.3.1998 and 16.3.1998.

9.2) Petitioner, in the letter to this Court, alleges beating and
torture at Dhamtan Saheb Police Post on 10.3.1998 and at Police
Station, Garhi for five days in Police custody between 11.3.1998
and 16.3.1998. Rattan Singh alleges torture for 2 days (from
10.3.1998 to 12.3.1998) and again for four days (from 16.3.1998
to 20.3.1998). But in the writ petition filed in Punjab & Haryana
High Court on 24.3.1998 by petitioner and Rattan Singh, there is
no allegation of beating or torture, but only expression of an
apprehension that they may be arrested, harassed and tortured
(Note : Petitioner blames his counsel for not mentioning the facts
properly in the writ petition filed before the High Court).

9.3) In the letter petition, petitioner completely suppressed the
fact that he (along with Rattan Singh) had filed a writ petition on
24.3.1998 in the Punjab & Haryana High Court in regard to the said
incident (between 10.3.1998 to 21.3.1998) and the fact that the
said writ petition was disposed of on 27.4.1998 by the  High Court
reserving liberty to file a criminal complaint.

9.4) In the letter petition, the petitioner has alleged four
misdeeds of police on 10.3.1998 : (a) His torture at the police
post at the Dhamtan Saheb Police Post by Dharam Singh, ASI at
the instance of Superintendent of Police and DSP, (b) Mistreatment
of wife and daughters of the petitioner at the Dhamtan Saheb
Police Post, (c) Rs.2,350/- being taken from his pocket by ASI
Dharam Singh, and (d) Licensed gun, cartridges, arms licence and
gold ornaments being illegally taken by ASI Dharam Singh on
10.3.1998. The CBI report finds that none of these four allegations
is substantiated.

9.5) In the letter petition, the petitioner alleged that he had told
police that he was not on good terms with his son Joginder Singh,
that he had already disowned him and  the family was having no
connection with Joginder. He even published a notice in Dainik
Tribune in August, 1998 stating that he has no connection with his
son Joginder. In his affidavit dated 31.8.2001 (filed in this case on
1.10.2001), petitioner reiterates that he has disowned his son
Joginder and alleges that he did not have any contact with him;
and that in spite of it,  the police were continuously harassing him
and his family members seeking information about the
whereabouts of Joginder and raiding his house and his relatives
houses to find out whether Joginder was hiding there. But the CBI
inquiry has categorically found that petitioner and his family
members had not disowned Joginder. They were regularly meeting
Joginder when he was in custody. Petitioner was traveling to meet
his son Joginder whenever he was being produced in courts, in
respect of different cases. In fact petitioner received money from
the All India Food & Allied Workers Palledar Union, Tohana (Kacchi
Union) of which he was a member, to meet the expenses of the
travel (to meet his son) on 25.10.2000, 25.11.2000, 21.12.2000,
13.1.2001, 16.1.2001, 23.1.2001, 9.10.2001, 10.10.2001,
11.10.2001, 15.10.2001, 25.10.2001, 7.11.2001, 17.11.2001 and
20.11.2001. Further, the jail records showed that Joginder was met
by petitioners wife on 26.8.1999, petitioners brother Narsi on
17.11.1999, 18.11.1999 and 1.3.2002, petitioners uncle Rama on
20.11.1999, and petitioners brother-in-law Rattan Singh on
5.3.2002.

10. There was thus reasonable cause for the Police to think that
the family members of Joginder might know about his
whereabouts. The repeated questioning of the family members of
Joginder in the year 1998 and 2001, either at their houses or by
calling them to the Police Station/Post was part of investigation
process and cannot, per se, be considered as harassment or
violation of Article 21. Whether the police exceeded their limits in
questioning the petitioner or his relatives is of course a different
aspect. The report of the CBI shows that there is prima facie
evidence about petitioner and some of his relatives being illegally
detained in Police Station/Post and subjected possibly to some third
degree methods, to extract information regarding the whereabouts
of Joginder Singh. At the same time, the report makes it clear that
neither the illegal detention nor the alleged torture (if true) was of
an extent, alleged by the petitioner and his relatives. The claims
were clearly exaggerated and many a time false also. It is quite
probable that the allegations against Police were levelled and/or
exaggerated to avoid enquiries by the  Police in regard to Joginder.

11. This leads us to the question whether, in addition to directing
CBI inquiry and prosecution of the officers concerned, on the facts
and circumstances of this case, compensation should be awarded
to petitioner and his family members, as a public law remedy for
the violation of their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the
Constitution.

Compensation as a public law remedy :

12. Though illegal detention and custodial torture were
recognized as violations of the fundamental rights of life and liberty
guaranteed under Article 21, to begin with, only the following
reliefs were being granted in writ petitions under Article 32 or 226 :

a) direction to set at liberty the person detained, if the
complaint was one of illegal detention.

b) direction to the concerned Government to hold an
inquiry and take action against the officers responsible
for the violation.

c) If the enquiry or action taken by the concerned
department was found to be not  satisfactory, to direct
an inquiry by an independent agency, usually the
Central Bureau of Investigation.

Award of compensation as a public law remedy for violation of the
fundamental rights enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, in
addition to the private law remedy under the Law of Torts, was
evolved in the last two and half decades. 

13. In the Bhagalpur Blinding case, [Khatri (II) vs State of
Bihar  1981 (1) SCC 627], Bhagwati J., (as he then was),
speaking for the Bench, posed the following question while
considering the  relief that could be given by a court for violation of
constitutional rights guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution :-

… but if life or personal liberty is violated otherwise than in
accordance with such procedure, is the Court helpless to
grant relief to the person who has suffered such
deprivation? Why should the court not be prepared to forge
new tools and devise new remedies  for the purpose of
vindicating the most precious  of the precious fundamental
right to life and personal liberty.

READ  Whether it is necessary to prove fact which is admitted by other party?

The question was expanded in a subsequent order in Bhagalpur
Blinding case [Khatri (IV) vs State of Bihar  1981 (2) SCC
493), thus :-
If an officer of the State acting in his official capacity
threatens to deprive a person of his life or personal liberty
without the authority of law, can such person not approach
the court for injuncting the State from acting through such
officer in violation of his fundamental right under Article 21
? Can the State urge in defence in such a case that it is not
infringing the fundamental right of the petitioner under
Article 21, because the officer who is threatening to do so is
acting outside the law and therefore beyond the scope of his
authority and hence the State is not responsible for his
action ? Would this not make a mockery of Article 21 and
reduce it to nullity, a mere rope of sand, for, on this view, if
the officer is acting according to law there would ex
concessionis be no breach of Article 21 and if he is acting
without the authority of law, the State would be able to
contend that it is not responsible for his action and
therefore there is no violation of Article 21. So also if there
is any threatened invasion by the State of the fundamental
right guaranteed under Article 21, the petitioner who is
aggrieved can move the court under Article 32 for a writ
injuncting such threatened invasion and if there is any
continuing action of the State which is violative of the
fundamental right under Article 21, the petitioner can
approach the court under Article 32and ask for a writ
striking down the continuance of such action, but where the
action taken by the State has already resulted in breach of
the fundamental right under Article 21 by deprivation of
some limb of the petitioner, would the petitioner have no
remedy under Article 32 for breach of the fundamental right
guaranteed to him ? Would the court permit itself to
become helpless spectator of the violation of the
fundamental right of the petitioner by the State and tell the
petitioner that though the Constitution has guaranteed the
fundamental right to him and has also given him the
fundamental right of moving the court for enforcement of
his fundamental right, the court cannot give him any relief.    

Answering the said questions, it was held that when a court trying
the writ petition proceeds to inquire into the violation of any right
to life or personal liberty, while in police custody, it does so, not for
the purpose of adjudicating upon the guilt of any particular officer
with a view to punishing him but for the purpose of deciding
whether the fundamental right of the petitioners under Article 21
has been violated and the State is liable to pay compensation to
them for such violation. This Court clarified that the nature and
object of the inquiry is altogether different from that in a criminal
case and any decision arrived at in the writ petition on this issue
cannot have any relevance much less any binding effect, in any
criminal proceeding which may be taken against a particular police
officer. This Court further clarified that in a given case, if the
investigation is still proceeding, the Court may even defer the
inquiry before it until the investigation is completed or if the Court
considered it necessary in the interests of Justice, it may postpone
its inquiry until after the prosecution was terminated, but that is a
matter entirely for the exercise of the discretion of the Court and
there is no bar precluding the Court from proceeding with the
inquiry before it, even if the investigation or prosecution is
pending.

14. In Rudul Sah vs. State of Bihar [1983 (4) SCC 141], the
petitioner therein approached this Court under Article 32 of the
Constitution alleging that though he was acquitted by the Sessions
Court on 3.6.1968, he was released from jail only on 6.10.1982,
after 14 years, and sought compensation for his illegal detention.
This Court while recognizing that Article 32 cannot be used as a
substitute for the enforcement of rights and obligations which can
be enforced efficaciously through the ordinary processes of courts,
civil and criminal, raised for consideration the  important question
as to whether in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 32,
this Court can pass an order for payment of money, as
compensation for the deprivation of a fundamental right. This Court
answered the question thus while awarding compensation:-

Article 21 which guarantees the right to life and liberty will
be denuded of its significant content if the power of this
Court were limited to passing orders of release from illegal
detention. One of the telling ways in which the violation of
that right can reasonably be prevented and due compliance
with the mandate of Article 21 secured, is to mulct its
violators in the payment of monetary compensation.
Administrative sclerosis leading to flagrant infringements of
fundamental rights cannot be corrected by any other
method open to the judiciary to adopt. The right to
compensation is some palliative for the unlawful acts of
instrumentalities which act in the name of public interest
and which present for their protection the powers of the
State as a shield. If civilisation is not to perish in this
country as it has perished in some others too well-known to
suffer mention, it is necessary to educate ourselves into
accepting that, respect for the rights of individuals is the
true bastion of democracy. Therefore, the State must repair
the damage done by its officers to the petitioners rights. It
may have recourse against those officers.

Rudul Sah was followed in Bhim Singh vs. State of J&K [1985
(4) SCC 677] and Peoples Union for Democratic Rights vs.
Police Commissioner, Delhi Police Headquarters [1989 (4)
SCC 730].

15. The law was crystallized in Nilabati Behera vs. State of
Orissa [1993 (2) SCC 746]. In that case, the deceased was
arrested by the police, handcuffed and kept in a police custody. The
next day, his dead-body was found on a railway track. This Court
awarded compensation to the mother of the deceased.  J.S. Verma
J., (as he then was) spelt out the following principles :-

Award of compensation in a proceeding under Article
32 by this Court or by the High Court under Article
226 of the Constitution is a remedy available in public
law, based on strict liability for contravention of
fundamental rights to which the principle of
sovereign immunity does not apply, even though it
may be available as a defence in private law in an
action based on tort.

Enforcement of the constitutional right and  grant of 
redress embraces award of compensation as part of
the legal consequences of its contravention.

A claim in public law for compensation for contravention of
human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of
which is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an acknowledged 
remedy for enforcement and protection of such rights, and
such a claim based on strict liability made  by resorting  to 
a  constitutional  remedy  provided  for the enforcement of
a fundamental right is distinct from, and in addition  to, the
remedy in private law for damages for the tort  resulting
from the contravention of  the fundamental right. The 
defence  of  sovereign  immunity being  inapplicable,  and
alien to  the concept  of  guarantee of fundamental  rights, 
there  can be no question  of  such  a defence being
available in the constitutional remedy.  It is this principle
which justifies award of monetary compensation for
contravention of fundamental rights guaranteed by the
Constitution, when that  is the only practicable mode of
redress available for the  contravention made by the State
or its servants in the purported  exercise of their powers,
and enforcement of the fundamental right is claimed by
resort to the remedy in public law under the Constitution by
recourse to Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.

[Emphasis supplied] 
Dr. A.S. Anand J., (as he then was) in his concurring judgment
elaborated the principle thus :-

… Convicts, prisoners or under-trials  are not denuded of
their fundamental rights under Article 21 and  it is  only
such restrictions, as are permitted by law, which can be
imposed on the enjoyment of the fundamental rights by
such  persons. It is an obligation of the State to  ensure that
there is no infringement of the indefeasible rights  of a 
citizen to life, except in accordance with law, while the
citizen is in its custody.

The public law proceedings serve a different purpose than
the private law proceedings. The relief of monetary
compensation, as exemplary damages, in proceedings
under Article 32 by the Supreme Court or under Article 226
by the High Courts, for established infringement of the
indefeasible right guaranteed under Article 21 is a remedy
available in public law and is based on the strict liability for
contravention of the guaranteed basic and indefeasible
rights of the citizen. The purpose of public law is not only to
civilize public power but also to assure the citizen that they
live under a legal system which aims to protect their
interests and preserve their rights. Therefore, when the
court moulds the relief by granting compensation in
proceedings under Article 32 or 226 seeking enforcement or
protection of fundamental rights, it does so under the public
law by way of penalizing the wrongdoer and fixing the
liability for the public wrong on the State which has failed in
its public duty to protect the fundamental rights of the
citizen. The payment of compensation in such cases is not
to be understood, as it is generally understood in a civil
action for damages under the private law but in the broader
sense of providing relief by an order of making monetary
amends under the public law for the wrong done due to
breach of public duty, of not protecting the fundamental
rights of the citizen. The compensation is in the nature of
exemplary damages awarded against the wrongdoer for
the breach of its public law duty and is independent of the
rights available to the aggrieved party to claim
compensation under the private law in an action based on
tort, through a suit instituted in a court of competent
jurisdiction or/and prosecute the offender under the penal
law.
16. In D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997 (1) SCC
416), this Court again considered exhaustively the question and
held that monetary compensation should be awarded for
established infringement of fundamental rights guaranteed under
Article 21. This Court held :-

Custodial violence, including torture and death in the lock
ups strikes a blow at the Rule of Law, which demands that
the powers of the executive should not only be derived from
law but also that the same should be limited by law.
Custodial violence is a matter of concern. It is aggravated
by the fact that it is committed by persons who are
supposed to be the protectors of the citizens. It is
committed under the shield of uniform and authority in the
four walls of a police station or lock-up, the victim being
totally helpless. The protection of an individual from torture
and abuse by the police and other law enforcing officers is a
matter of deep concern in a free society.

Any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment would fall within the inhibition of Article 21 of the
Constitution, whether it occurs during investigation,
interrogation or otherwise. If the functionaries of the
Government become law-breakers, it is bound to breed
contempt for law and would encourage lawlessness and
every man would have the tendency to become law unto
himself thereby leading to anarchy. No civilized nation can
permit that to happen. Does a citizen shed off his
fundamental right to life, the moment a policeman arrests
him ? Can the right to life of a citizen be put in abeyance on
his arrest. … The answer, indeed, has to be an emphatic
No.

Police is, no doubt, under a legal duty and has legitimate
right to arrest a criminal and to interrogate him during the
investigation of an offence but it must be remembered that
the law does not permit use of third degree methods or
torture of accused in custody during interrogation and
investigation with a view to solve the crime. End cannot
justify the means. The interrogation and investigation into a
crime should be in true sense purposeful to make the
investigation effective. By torturing a person and using third
degree methods, the police would be accomplishing behind
the closed doors what the demands of our legal order
forbid. No society can permit it.

17. It is thus now well settled that award of compensation
against the State is an appropriate and effective remedy for
redress of an established infringement of a fundamental right under
Article 21, by a public servant. The quantum of compensation will,
however, depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
Award of such compensation (by way of public law remedy) will not
come in the way of the aggrieved  person claiming additional
compensation in a civil court, in enforcement of the private law
remedy in tort, nor come in the way of the criminal court ordering
compensation under section 357 of Code of Civil Procedure.

18. This takes us to the next question as to whether
compensation should be awarded under Article 32/226, for every
violation of Article 21 where illegal detention or custodial violence is
alleged.

Whether compensation should be awarded for every
violation of Article 21

19. In M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India [1987 (1) SCC 395], a
Constitution Bench of this Court while considering the question
whether compensation can be awarded in a petition under Article
32, observed thus :-
We must, therefore, hold that Article 32 is not powerless to
assist a person when he finds that his fundamental right has
been violated. He can in that event seek remedial
assistance under Article 32. The power of the court to grant
such remedial relief may include the power to award
compensation in appropriate cases. We are deliberately
using the words in appropriate cases because we
must make it clear that it is not in every case where
there is a breach of a fundamental right committed by
the violator that compensation would be awarded by
the court in a petition under Article 32. The
infringement of the fundamental right must be gross
and patent, that is, incontrovertible and ex facie
glaring and either such infringement should be on a large
scale affecting the fundamental rights of a large number of
persons, or it should appear unjust or unduly harsh or
oppressive on account of their poverty or disability or
socially or economically disadvantaged position to require
the person or persons affected by such infringement to
initiate and pursue act in the civil courts. Ordinarily, of
course, a petition under Article 32 should not be used
as a substitute for enforcement of the right to claim
compensation for infringement of a fundamental right
through the ordinary process of civil court. It is only
in exceptional cases of the nature indicated by us
above, that compensation may be awarded in a
petition under Article 32.  ….

READ  Y. Abraham Ajith & Ors. Vs Inspector of Police, Chennai & Anr

If we make a fact analysis of the cases where
compensation has been awarded by this Court, we
will find that in all the cases, the fact of infringement
was patent and incontrovertible, the violation was
gross and its magnitude was such as to shock the
conscience of the court and it would have been
gravely unjust to the person whose fundamental right
was violated, to require him to go to the civil court for
claiming compensation.
            (emphasis supplied)
In Nilabati Behera (supra), this Court put in a word of caution
thus:-
Of course, relief in exercise of the power under Article 32
or 226 would be granted only (when) it is established that
there has been an infringement of the fundamental rights of
the citizen and no other form of appropriate redressal by
the court in the facts and circumstances of the case, is
possible. ….Law is in the process of development and the
process necessitates developing separate public law
procedures as also public law principles. It may be
necessary to identify the situations to which separate
proceedings and principles apply and the courts have to
act firmly but with certain amount of circumspection
and self-restraint, lest proceedings under Article 32
or 226 are misused as a disguised substitute for civil
action in private law.
             (emphasis supplied)
      
In D. K. Basu (supra), this Court repeatedly stressed that
compensation can be awarded only for redressal of an established
violation of Article 21. This Court also drew attention to the
following aspect :

There is one other aspect also which needs our
consideration. We are conscious of the fact that the police in
India have to perform a difficult and delicate task,
particularly in view of the deteriorating law and order
situation, communal riots, political turmoil, student unrest,
terrorist activities, and among others the increasing number
of underworld and armed gangs and criminals. Many hard
core criminals like extremists, the terrorists, drug peddlers,
smugglers who have organized, gangs, have taken strong
roots in the society. It is being said in certain quarters that
with more and more liberalization and enforcement of
fundamental rights, it would lead to difficulties in the
detection of crimes committed by such categories of
hardened criminals by soft peddling interrogation, it is felt in
those quarters that if we lay too much of emphasis on
protection of their fundamental rights and human
rights, such criminals may go scot-free without
exposing any element or iota of criminality with the
result, the crime would go unpunished and in the
ultimate analysis the society would suffer. The
concern is genuine and the problem is real. To deal
with such a situation, a balanced approach is needed
to meet the ends of justice. This is all the more so, in
view of the expectation of the society that police must deal
with the criminals in an efficient and effective manner and
bring to book those who are involved in the crime. The cure
cannot, however, be worst than the disease itself.

[Emphasis supplied]

In Shakila Abdul Gafar Khan v. Vasant Raghunath Dhoble
[2003 (7) SCC 749] and Munshi Singh Gautam v. State of M.P.
[2005 (9) SCC 631], this Court warned against non-genuine
claims:
But at the same time there seems to be a
disturbing trend of increase in cases where false
accusations of custodial torture are made, trying to
take advantage of the serious concern shown and
the stern attitude reflected by the courts while
dealing with custodial violence. It needs to be
carefully examined whether the allegations of
custodial violence are genuine or are sham
attempts to gain undeserved benefit masquerading
as victims of custodial violence.

In Dhananjay Sharma vs. State of Haryana [1995 (3) SCC
757], this Court refused compensation where the petitioner had
exaggerated the incident and had indulged in falsehood. This Court
held :
Since, from the report of the CBI and our own
independent appraisal of the evidence recorded by
the CBI. we have come to the conclusion that Shri
Dhananjay Sharma and Sushil Kumar had been
illegally detained by respondents 3 to 5 from the
afternoon of 15.1.94 to 17.1.94, the State must be
held responsible for the unlawful acts of its officers
and it must repair the damage done to the citizens
by its officers for violating their indivisible
fundamental right of personal liberty without any
authority of law in an absolutely high-handed
manner. We would have been, therefore,
inclined to direct the State Government of
Haryana to compensate Dhananjay Sharma
and Sushil Kumar but since Sushil Kumar has
indulged in false-hood in this Court and Shri
Dhananjay Sharma, has also exaggerated the
incident by stating that on 15.1.94 when he
was way laid along with Sushil Kumar and
Shri S.C. Puri, Advocate, two employees of
respondents 6 and 7 were also present with
the police party, which version has not been
found to be correct by the CBI, they both have
disentitled themselves from receiving any
compensation, as monetary amends for the
wrong done by respondents 3 to 5, in
detaining them. We, therefore do not direct
the payment of any compensation to them.

    [Emphasis supplied]

20. Cases where violation of Article 21 involving custodial
death or torture is established or is incontrovertible stand on a
different footing when compared to cases where such violation
is doubtful or not established. Where there is no independent
evidence of custodial torture and where there is neither medical
evidence about any injury or disability, resulting from custodial
torture, nor any mark/scar, it may not be prudent to accept
claims of human right violation, by persons having criminal
records in a routine manner for awarding compensation. That
may open the floodgates for false claims, either to mulct money
from the State or as to prevent or thwart further investigation.
Courts should, therefore, while jealously protecting the
fundamental rights of those who are illegally detained or
subjected to custodial violence, should also stand guard against
false, motivated and frivolous claims in the interests of the
society and to enable Police to discharge their duties fearlessly
and effectively. While custodial torture is not infrequent, it
should be borne in mind that every arrest and detention does
not lead to custodial torture.
 
21. In cases where custodial death or custodial torture or
other violation of the rights guaranteed under Article 21 is
established, courts may award compensation in a proceeding
under Article 32 or 226. However, before awarding
compensation, the Court will have to pose to itself the following
questions : (a) Whether the violation of  Article 21 is patent and
incontrovertible, (b) whether the violation is gross and of a
magnitude to shock the conscience of the court, (c) whether the
custodial torture alleged has resulted in death or whether
custodial torture is supported by medical report or visible marks
or scars or disability. Where there is no evidence of custodial
torture of a person except his own statement, and where such
allegation is not supported by any medical report or other
corroboration evidence, or where there are clear indications that
the allegations are false or exaggerated fully or in part, courts
may not award compensation as a public law remedy under
Article 32 or 226, but relegate the aggrieved  party to the
traditional remedies by way of appropriate civil/criminal action.

22.  We should not, however, be understood as holding that
harassment and custodial violence is not serious or worthy of
consideration, where there is no medical report or visible marks
or independent evidence. We are conscious of the fact that
harassment or custodial violence cannot always be supported by
a medical report or independent evidence or proved by marks or
scars. Every illegal detention irrespective of its duration, and
every custodial violence, irrespective of its degree or magnitude,
is outright condemnable and per se actionable. Remedy for such
violation is available in civil law and criminal law. The public law
remedy is additionally available where the conditions mentioned
in the earlier para are satisfied. We may also note that this
Court has softened the degree of proof required in criminal
prosecution relating to such matters.  In State of MP vs.
Shyamsunder Trivedi – 1995 (4) SCC 262, reiterated in
ABDUL GAFAR KHAN and MUNSHI SINGH GAUTAM (supra),this
Court observed :-

Rerely in cases of police torture or custodial death, direct
ocular evidence of the complicity of the police personnel
would be available…… Bound as they are by the ties of
brotherhood, it is not unknown that the police personnel
prefer to remain silent and more often than not even pervert
the truth to save their colleagues………. The exaggerated
adherence to and insistence upon the establishment of proof
beyond every reasonable doubt, by the prosecution, ignoring
the ground realities, the fact-situations and the peculiar
circumstances of a given case….., often results in miscarriage
of justice and makes the justice delivery system a suspect. In
the ultimate analysis the society suffers and a criminal gets
encouraged. Tortures in police custody, which of late are on
the increase, receive encouragement by this type of an
unrealistic approach of the Courts because it reinforces the
belief in the mind of the police that no harm would come to
them, if an odd prisoner dies in the lock-up, because there
would hardly be any evidence available to the prosecution to
directly implicate them with the torture.

Improving the present situation

23. Unfortunately, police in the country have given room for
an impression in the minds of public, that whenever there is a
crime, investigation usually means rounding up all persons
concerned (say all servants in the event of a theft in the
employers house, or all acquaintances of the deceased, in the
event of a murder) and subjecting them to third-degree
interrogation in the hope that someone will spill the beans. This
impression may not be correct, but instances are not wanting
where police have resorted to such a practice. Lack of training in
scientific investigative methods, lack of modern equipment, lack
of adequate personnel, and lack of a mindset respecting human
rights, are generally the reasons for such illegal action. One
other main reason is that the public (and men in power) expect
results from police in too short a span of time, forgetting that
methodical and scientific investigation is a time consuming and
lengthy process. Police are branded as inefficient even when
there is a short delay in catching the culprits in serious crimes.
The expectation of quick results in high-profile or heinous
crimes builds enormous pressure on the police to somehow
catch the offender. The need to have quick results tempts
them to resort to third degree methods. They also tend to arrest
someone in a hurry on the basis of incomplete investigation,
just to ease the pressure. Time has come for an attitudinal
change not only in the minds of the police, but also on the part
of the public. Difficulties in criminal investigation and the time
required for such investigation should be recognized, and police
should be allowed to function methodically without interferences
or unnecessary pressures. If police are to perform better, the
public should support them, government should strengthen and
equip them, and men in power should not interfere or belittle
them. The three wings of the Government should encourage,
insist and ensure thorough scientific investigation under proper
legal procedures, followed by prompt and efficient prosecution.
Be that as it may.

24. Custodial violence requires to be tackled from two ends,
that is, by taking measures that are remedial and preventive.
Award of compensation is one of the remedial measures after
the event. Effort should be made to remove the very causes,
which lead to custodial violence, so as to prevent such
occurances. Following steps, if taken, may prove to be effective
preventive measures:

a) Police training should be re-oriented, to bring in a
change in the mindset and attitude of the Police
personnel in regard to investigations, so that they
will recognize and respect human rights, and adopt
thorough and scientific investigation methods.

b) The functioning of lower level Police Officers should
be continuously monitored and supervised by their
superiors to prevent custodial violence and
adherence to lawful standard methods of
investigation.

c) Compliance with the eleven requirements
enumerated in D.K. Basu (supra) should be ensured
in all cases of arrest and detention.

d) Simple and fool-proof procedures should be
introduced for prompt registration of first
information reports relating to all crimes.

e) Computerization, video-recording, and modern
methods of records maintenance should be
introduced to avoid manipulations, insertions,
substitutions and ante-dating in regard to FIRs,
Mahazars, inquest proceedings, Port-mortem
Reports and Statements of witnesses etc. and to
bring in transparency in action.

f) An independent investigating agency (preferably the
respective Human Rights Commissions or CBI) may
be entrusted with adequate power, to investigate
complaints of custodial violence against Police
personnel and take stern and speedy action followed
by prosecution, wherever necessary.

The endeavour should be to achieve a balanced level of
functioning, where police respect human rights, adhere to law,
and take confidence building measures (CBMs), and at the same
time, firmly deal with organized crime, terrorism, white-collared
crime, deteriorating law and order situation etc.

CONCLUSION :

25. In this case, there is no clear or incontrovertible evidence
about  custodial torture, nor any medical report of any injury or
disability. The grievance of the petitioner and his relatives is
against different officers in different Police Stations at different
points of time. More importantly, several of the allegations are
proved to be exaggerated and false. We, therefore, do not
consider this to be a fit case for award of compensation. All
reliefs which should be granted in such a case, have already
been granted by ordering an inquiry by the CBI and ensuring
that the Police Officers named are prosecuted. The law will have
to take own course.

26.   This order will not come in the way of any civil court
awarding compensation in an action in tort or the criminal court
awarding compensation under section 357 CPC in the pending
prosecution against any of the officers, if the charges are
established.  With the said observations, we dispose of this
petition, as no further reliefs/directions are called for.

27. We record our appreciation for the effort put in by Shri S.
Muralidhar, Amicus Curiae, in presenting the matter. 

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