The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a show-cause notice to the Chief Secretary of Gujarat as to why the state government should not pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to a human rights lawyer in South Gujarat who was “admittedly” falsely implicated in a criminal case by police in Surat district. The Chief Secretary has been directed to submit a reply within four weeks.
The victim lawyer has been identified as Bilal Kagzi (39), a native of Kosamba village of Mangrol tehsil in Surat district. The NHRC passed the order dated August 17, 2020, while acting on a complaint lodged by Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) – India, a Tamil Nadu-based forum that functions “to initiate action on behalf of human rights defenders under threat or with security concerns”.
The HRDA lodged the complaint in September 2019 on the basis of a communication it received from Kagzi and other sources.
As per the complaint, Kagzi and seven others were booked by Kosamba police in Surat district for attempt to murder and allied offences on August 12, 2019.
“The complainant in this case (against Bilal Kagzi and others) alleged that all the accused persons attempted to kill him. But Bilal was at his home due to the festival of Bakri Eid and was nowhere near the place where the alleged offence took place… his name was inserted and added by the police in collusion with the complainant, in order to nurse a grudge against him as he is representing the co-accused in number of criminal cases against the complainant,” reads the complaint.
Following the complaint, the NHRC asked the Superintendent of Police, Surat, to file an action taken report, which was eventually submitted.
Referring to the report filed by Surat district police authorities, the Commission’s order dated August 17 recorded, “It is reported that the allegation levelled against the victim was not substantiated during the course of inquiry and the victim had supply (sic) CCTV footage wherein he was not present at the alleged incident spot. The IO of the case had been directed to investigate the case and file the chargesheet with deletion of the name of the accused.”
The Commission order also said it has considered the report and there was an admitted lapse on the part of the police officials as the victim was falsely implicated. “The state is vicariously liable for their act. The Commission considers this case to be a fit case for award of compensation, therefore, issue notice u/s 18a(i) of PHR (Protection of Human Rights) Act, 1993 to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Gujarat directing him to show cause within four weeks as to why the Commission should not recommend payment of compensation of Rs. One Lakhs only to the victim, whose human rights have been infringed due lackadaisical behaviour of police personnel,” the order added.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Kagzi said, “Apart from my regular legal practice, I have also been fighting for the rights of Dalits, tribals and the underprivileged… as part of which I got several complaints of police atrocities lodged. So, they (some police officials of Kosamba) have been nursing a grudge against me.”
“Also, there are two groups groups in my village fighting against each other for local dominance. They are involved in a number of criminal cases and I represent one of the groups in the court. In the FIR registered in August 12 last year, the police connived with the opposite group who lodged the complaint and framed me in the criminal case,” he added.
“However, when the alleged incident happened, I was at my home and the footage of CCTV installed at my home proves that… Police did not consider the CCTV footage because they hold a grudge against me and want to harass me as I am responsible for a number of complaints of human rights violations, such as custodial torture, filed against them. I eventually had to secure anticipatory bail from the sessions court while taking the strong defence of alibi on the basis of CCTV footage in the case,” Kagzi added.
The lawyer also alleged that he has three other similar false cases registered against him by local police in which legal fight is on.
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