The Delhi High Court has awarded a compensation of Rs 50,000 to a man illegally detained by the city police in a lock-up for about half an hour, saying it was troubled by the way citizens were treated by officials whose conduct was “appalling”.
To send out a “meaningful message”, Justice Subramonium Prasad directed that the compensation shall be recovered from the salaries of the erring police officials.
The court observed that the authorities acted in a high-handed manner without respecting the petitioner’s liberty or following due procedure of law as the petitioner was simply picked up from the spot and placed inside the lock-up for no rhyme or reason.
“The time spent in the lock-up by the Petitioner, even for a short while, cannot absolve the police officers who have deprived the Petitioner of his liberty without following the due procedure established by law,” the court said in its order dated October 5.
“This court is of the opinion that a meaningful message must be sent to the authorities that police officers cannot be law unto themselves. In the facts of this case, even though the illegal detention of the Petitioner was only for about half an hour, this Court is inclined to grant compensation of Rs.50,000/- to the Petitioner, which shall be recovered from the salaries of Respondents No.4 and 5,” it ordered.
The petitioner alleged that following a complaint regarding a fight between a lady and a vegetable seller, he was illegally detained in a lock-up without any formal arrest by the local police in September last year. He sought compensation for the violation of his personal liberty.
The court said it was undisputed that the petitioner was picked up from the spot without an FIR against him and placed in the lock-up which was against his right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
“This court is deeply troubled by the fact that the Petitioner was not even arrested. He was simply picked up from the spot, brought to the Police Station and placed inside the lock-up for no rhyme or reason. The highhanded way in which the Police authorities have acted, throwing to winds the constitutional and fundamental rights of a citizen, is appalling,” the court observed.
“This Court is troubled at the way the citizens are being treated by the Police authorities who behave as if they are above the law,” it said.
The court said the punishment of censure alone was not sufficient in the facts and circumstances of the case as it was not likely to have any effect on the career of the police officers and so would not be a sufficient deterrent.
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