Justice Suraj Govindaraj of the Karnataka High Court has held that it is only under extreme circumstances that the handcuffing of an accused can be resorted to.

The extraordinary circumstances cited by the Court include the possibility of the accused or the under-trial prisoner escaping custody, causing harm to himself, or causing harm to others.

The Court also held that an accused who is arrested can normally not be handcuffed.

Further, the Court also noted that when such handcuffing is made, the Arresting Officer is required to record the reasons for handcuffing which would have to sustain the scrutiny of the Court.

Asserting so, the single-judge Bench also observed –

"… if there is a violation by the Arresting officer in putting handcuffs on the petitioner, the petitioner would be eligible for compensation."

The Court additionally passed the following directions –

i) No person whether he be an accused, under trial prisoner or convict shall be handcuffed unless the reason for the same is recorded in the case diary and/or the relevant record as to why such a person is required to be handcuffed.

ii) If an accused is produced before a Court after arrest, it shall be the duty of the said Court to among other things enquire as to whether the said person had been handcuffed or not. If the person were to respond in the affirmative, the Court would have to ascertain the reasons for such handcuffing and to decide on the validity or otherwise of such handcuffing.

iii) If an under trial prisoner is produced before the Court, it shall be the duty of the Court to enquire as to whether he was handcuffed or not and then if the person were to respond in the affirmative, the Court would have to ascertain the reasons for such handcuffing and to decide on the validity or otherwise of such handcuffing.

iv) The trial Court shall endeavor as far as possible to the avoid physical appearance of the under trial prisoner and permit the under trial prisoner to appear through video conferencing. Only in the event of the Court being of the opinion that the physical presence of the accused is required in Court, then the Court could direct for such physical presence by a reasoned order.

v) As far as possible, permission to handcuff an under-trial prisoner would have to be taken prior to the production of the under-trial prisoner before the Court and obtain an order for handcuffing from the said Court. If no such permission is applied for and under trial prisoner were to be handcuffed, the concerned police officer would be taking a risk of such handcuffing being declared illegal and action being taken against them.

vi) It is for the State to equip all police stations with adequate and necessary police personnel required for the purpose of discharging of the duties and obligations of the State.

vii) The Director-General of Police shall also endeavor to make available body cameras to all the police officers entitled to arrest a person, so that the manner of arrest is recorded by such body cameras. The camera shall also be equipped with microphone to record the conversations that take place at that particular point of time. The video recording as also audio recording shall be retained at least for a period of one year from the date of recording. A Standard Operating Procedure shall be prepared by the Director General of Police in this regard and suitable training to be provided to such officers.

In this case, the Petitioner against whom five criminal cases were filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act preferred a Writ Petition before the High Court alleging that despite the stay on his conviction, Respondent No. 3 officials illegally arrested and detained him.

The Petitioner urged before the Court that his family life had been ruined and so also his reputation and his fundamental rights were violated by the Respondents abusing their official position.

The Petitioner further also argued that he was handcuffed and paraded with handcuffs and the incident has been video recorded and a compact disc has been produced by the Petitioner before the Court.

The Petitioner sought compensation of Rs. 25,00,000 from the Respondents for the loss of reputation, illegal detention and illegal handcuffing.

Counsel Santosh Pujari appeared for the Petitioner while High Court Govt. Pleader Praveen Uppar appeared for the Respondents before the High Court.

The Court referred to Section 46 and 49 CrPC and Sections 831, 832, 833, 834 and 835 of the Karnataka Police Manual and observed –

"The said provisions provide for instructions for using handcuffs. A perusal of the said provisions would indicate that the prisoner should not be normally handcuffed, unless he is violent or disorderly or circumstances necessitate such handcuffing. In the event of an accused is handcuffed, the facts and reasons for it is required to be recorded in the Station House Dairy."

Further, the single-judge Bench also noted –

"…whether the under-trial prisoners or an accused being arrested, handcuffing should be by way of last resort and such handcuffing should mainly be only for the reason of whether there is a possibility of the accused and/or under trial prisoner escaping custody, causing harm to himself or causing harm to others. The nature of offences and the punishment prescribed for the said offence are not relevant for the matter of handcuffing."

The Court in this context further added that there is no justification provided by the Respondents for handcuffing the Petitioner as neither any objections are filed nor is any affidavit filed by the Arresting Officer.

The Court additionally in this context held thar compensation which is required to be paid being a Public Law Remedy, there cannot be a straitjacket formula which could determine the amount of compensation.

"While awarding compensation, the Court would have to take into consideration the loss/damage that might have been caused to the person who has been handcuffed to recompensate him/her for such damage. Apart there from, the Court would also have to consider the imposition of compensation as a deterrent to the Police Officers who do not discharge their duties in a proper manner and/or violate the applicable law. The imposition of compensation should also be such that the concerned Police Officers should follow the applicable law in both letter and spirit and are put on notice that nonfollowing of the applicable law could result in they being liable to make payment of monetary compensation to the arrestee. Though the State could be required to make payment of compensation, the compensation being paid on account of an officer of the State like a Police Officer not following the applicable law, the State would be at liberty to recover the same from the concerned defaulter/defaulters," the Bench noted.

Thus, the Court held –

"I am of the considered opinion that the said amount cannot be awarded taking into consideration that the petitioner was a student and that the arrest was made in furtherance of non bailable warrant which had been issued; the arrest being proper; the only question being handcuffing of the petitioner not being required, I deem it fit to award a sum of Rs.2 lakhs as compensation to the petitioner…"

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