THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court has directed Punjab Police to award compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to a woman and her daughter, who were illegally detained for two days.
The petitioner, Parneet Kaur, through counsel Advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti, had moved the High Court in 2019, filing a habeas corpus plea, seeking that Harvinder Kaur and her daughter Rupinder Kaur be freed and be produced before this court after conducting their medical examination from a civil surgeon or any other competent authority, as the detenues were claimed to have been illegally detained by the Ropar SSP, and one Harpal Singh of Ropar.
The single bench of HC appointed a warrant officer, and it was concluded by the court that that the report of the warrant officer showed that mother and daughter had been detained in the Ropar City police station illegally, without following any procedure as per law, to ensure the presence of Parvinder Singh (Harvinder Kaur’s husband) in a connection with a murder case.
Holding that it was a gross violation of fundamental rights of the citizens, it was opined by the single bench that action needed to be taken against the erring officials and the detenues needed to be compensated. The matter was thus referred to a larger bench for issuing guidelines to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Before the division bench, the ASP Ropar submitted in reply that the officers of Rupnagar City police station had not illegally detained the two.
Police submitted that on September 2, 2019, a complaint from Harwinder Kaur was received at Morinda police station in Rupnagar district, in which she stated that articles were being stolen from her house by Simranjit Singh, Kaka Singh, Sodhi Singh etc. S-I Simranjeet Singh along with other officials went to the spot. On reaching the spot, the S-I came to know that an FIR regarding the murder of Gurpreet Singh alias Gopi had been registered under sections 364 and 302 of IPC at PS Kurali, Mohali, on June 25, 2019, on the statement of one Surinder Singh against Palwinder Singh, husband of Harwinder and father of the petitioner, and Palwinder Singh was evading arrest.
At around 7.30 pm, when S-I Simranjeet Singh along with other officials was inspecting the spot, Kaka Singh, Nagar Singh, Gorkha and Shinda Singh, all residents of Bamnara along with 15-20 unknown women and 20-25 unknown men arrived and started verbally abusing and beating Harwinder and Rupinder. The police tried to rescue the two, upon which the mob attacked them with sticks and stones. A FIR was registered against the mob, and Harwinder and Rupinder were rescued by police from the spot to protect them, police submitted, adding that the two had been permitted to stay back in the police station till the situation cooled down. Furthermore, both Harwinder and Rupinder in their statements nowhere stated any kind of mistreatment or harassment meted out to them at the police station.
The HC division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu held, “As observed by the Ld. Single Judge, even if it is accepted that some persons had tried to cause harm to the detenues, even then, both of them could not be kept in the police station for two days without even making entry in the roznamcha and also without informing the district magistrate. Their continued detention cannot but be termed as illegal.”
Ruling that if such an action is condoned, it would be prone to grave misuse, the bench directed the Punjab government to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to each detainee and recover the same from the erring officials who had kept them under detention.
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