The Bombay High Court recently directed the State government to grant Rs. 2 Lakh as compensation to a music teacher who was illegally detained by the Police despite being charged with a bailable offence and the fact that he was ready to furnish a bail bond. The Court while strongly reprimanding the act observed, The facts as narrated, smacks of police high handedness. It smacks of their insensitivity. It reveals their lack of knowledge of the legal provisions and judgments of the Apex Court, vis-a-vis grant of bail. This action of the police has resulted in unjustified trauma-physical, emotional and mental to the petitioner’s husband-Nitin”. The bench further directed an enquiry into the matter, pursuant to which the compensation will be paid from the salary of the person/persons found responsible for the illegal detention of the petitioner’s husband and for the actions alleged in the lock-up.

In the pertinent matter, the petitioner was the wife of the man illegally detained, who had approached the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of habeas corpus, to produce her husband-Nitin Sampat before the Court and for his release forthwith from illegal detention. A direction was also sought to take appropriate action against Senior Police Inspector and the PI for their willful breach of the mandatory guidelines issued by the Apex Court in the cases of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar and Anr and Satender Kumar Antil v. Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr.

Accordingly a bench of Justice Revati Mohite Dere and Justice Gauri Godse observed, “The right to compensation is 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. The rights of individuals must be recognized by the instrumentalities of the State and that any abuse or misuse of power, should attract consequences. Hence, in the peculiar facts, the State must repair the damage done to the petitioner's husband’s right, by its officers. Of course, it is for the State to take recourse against those officers responsible for the said violation".

Advocate Kripashankar Pandey appeared for the petitioner and APP P. P. Shinde appeared for the respondents–State.

In the present matter, the teacher was charged Sections 354A and 509 of the Indian Penal Code. Subsequent to which, as per the averments made by the petitioner, her husband-Nitin had cooperated with the officers during his visits to the Tardeo Police Station and had complied with the Section 41A notice issued to him. It was averred that the offences were bailable and that the police ought to have granted bail to him under Section 436 CrPC. However, the petitioner was not only illegally detained but was also tortured physically and emotionally, while was also asked to strip. The petitioner had also submitted that her husband-Nitin is a music teacher having reputation amongst his peers and students and an unblemished record of more than 20 years and as such, his illegal detention and torture whilst in custody, has caused him immense trauma.

The Court considering the facts and circumstances and the contentions of the petitioner had noted that the FIR was lodged on July 7, 2023, however a copy of the FIR was filed in the Magistrate’s Court on July 18, 2023 at 11:55 a.m., on the day when the matter was listed before the bench.

Therefore, while accepting the unconditional apology tendered in the affidavit dated September 6, 2023 by the DCP, Zone-III, Mumbai, and an assurance that there will be no violation of the fundamental rights while arresting the person, the bench observed, “…we deem it necessary and imperative to award costs to Nitin for the brazen acts of the officers. We, as constitutional courts, cannot be oblivious of the gross abuse of law, in this case and would fail in our duty, if the wrong is not redressed”.

While noting that the Police violated the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed to Nitin, the bench further observed, “...the grave injustice caused to the petitioner’s husband-Nitin, no doubt, cannot be compensated by money alone, however, granting some compensation and directing some action to be taken against the errant officers, would offer some solace/balm to the wounds, which the petitioner’s husband and his family has suffered”.

Cause Title: Neelam Nitin Sampat State of Maharashtra [Neutral Citation: 2023:BHC-AS:28590-DB]

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