The Jharkhand High Court expressed concern over the unavailability of crucial CCTV footage, despite previous directives, and issued directions. The Court dismissed a petition, emphasizing that, due to disputed facts and the serious nature of the allegations, it was not appropriate to interfere through Article 226 of the Constitution. It was alleged in the case that the Police compelled the petitioners to issue several cheques towards an alleged debt and that they were harassed by the police. They also alleged that the police acted in violation of due process and the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar during arrest of the petitioners. They had also claimed that the police had acted as a recovery agent for the complainant, and their rights to human dignity, life, liberty, and the inviolability of their bodies had been violated.

The High Court noted previous instances of high-handedness by the Dhanbad Police and their arbitrary actions. It was brought to the Court's attention that the petitioners had been forced to issue 20 cheques to the complainant due to police pressure. The Court further noted that the court in previous hearing had expressed concerns over these allegations and directed respondent nos. 3 and 4 to file their personal affidavits considering the arbitrariness of Dhanbad Police. Additionally, it had instructed the Director General of Police, Jharkhand (respondent no. 3), to preserve CCTV footage from Bankmore Police Station, District Dhanbad, between May 31, 2023, and June 01, 2023. This CCTV footage was to be produced before the Court in a sealed cover before the next hearing.

The Court perused the report submitted by the DGP informing that the footage for these dates wasn't available due to DVR memory limitations.

The Court found it unusual that such crucial CCTV footage was missing, the Court said, “It is strange that how the CCTV footage of only two dates were not found by the police, further question remains that in a place like Dhanbad in the State of Jharkhand, where the crime rate is very high, why such action is not taken by the Head of the Police Department as well as the Government of Jharkhand so that proper CCTV maintenance should be there. The direction to this effect has already been issued by the Hon’ble Supreme court to all the States as well as the Union Territory Governments, as has been referred hereinabove in the case of Paramvir Singh Saini (Supra) and that order is of the year 2021, in spite of that no action has been taken to comply the said direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court by the State of Jharkhand as yet.”

In view of the above, the State of Jharkhand and the Director General of Police, Jharkhand were directed to ensure that CCTV cameras are installed in each and every police station. It shall be also ensured that no part of a Police Station is left uncovered and it must be installed at all entry and exit points, main gate of the police station, all lock-ups; all corridors; lobby / the reception area, all verandas / outhouses, Inspector's room, Sub- Inspector's room, areas outside the lock-up room; station hall, in front of the police station compound, outside (not inside) washrooms/toilets, Duty Officer’s room, back part of the police station etc. and this shall be complied within three months from the date of receipt / production of a copy of this order. The State of Jharkhand and the Director General of Police, Jharkhand shall ensure that equipment installed must be able to the store data for 18 months.

A Bench of Justice Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi in relation to the quashing of FIR held, “the court comes to a conclusion that this is not a case of exercising the power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, when such strong allegations are there. No case of interference is made out. Accordingly, this petition is dismissed.”

Advocate Indrajit Sinha appeared for the Petitioners and Advocate Binit Chandra appeared for the State and Advocate Nilesh Kumar appeared for the Respondent 5.

The Court examined the contents of the FIR and the available materials. The Court found that they disputed two transactions: one for the purchase of a flat and one for the loan. The complainant alleged coercion in forming an MoU with police connivance.

The Court found that there are disputed facts and cautions against interference through Article 226 of the Constitution. The Court emphasized that the FIR is only under challenge, and such strong allegations should not lead to interference. The Court added, “The complaint has to be read as a whole and if on consideration of the allegations in the light of the statements made on oath or in the FIR and the ingredients of the offence or offences are disclosed and there is no material to show that the FIR is mala fide, frivolous or vexatious, in that event there would be no justification for interference by the High Court.”

The Court thus dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: Propertymen Realty Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. v. The State of Jharkhand & Ors.