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Use of excess police power on peaceful pro-testators is against law and is an offence The law is now well settled that the State or its functionaries cannot deprive any person of his life which includes right to live with human dignity except in accordance with law. whether petitioners have made out a case that their fundamental right to live with human dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India has been invaded, atleast prima facie, so as to direct for an independent investigation/enquiry so that the perpetrators may not get away scot free if petitioners’ case is found true. = BEENU RAWAT & ORS … PETITIONERS VS. UNION OF INDIA & ORS. … RESPONDENTS = published in http://www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in/outtoday/wc446.pdf

Use of excess police power on peaceful pro-testators is against law and is an offence

The law is now well settled that the State or its 

functionaries cannot deprive any person of his life 

which includes right to live with human dignity except 

in accordance with law. 

 

whether petitioners have made out a 

case that their fundamental right to live with human 

dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of 

India has been invaded, atleast prima facie, so as to 

direct for an independent investigation/enquiry so that 

the perpetrators may not get away scot free if 

petitioners’ case is found true. =

 

The counter 

version of the respondents that the petitioners 

indulged in rioting and damaged public property is 

neither supported by photographs contained in Annexure 

R.2 (colly) nor by the video footage shows to this 

Court. 

 

The video 

footage shown to us revealed that none of the 

protestors were carrying any arms or even brickbats in 

course of the protest. The initial part of the 

incident discloses lack of any bitterness and almost a 

friendly atmosphere. 

Thereafter, when copy of the FIR 

was shown from a distance but not made available to any 

one, the slogans increased and the tone could be 

perceived by some persons as irritating. 

Barring some 

protestors rest were pushed out of the gate of police 

station without any resistance or any untoward 

incident. 

The crowd outside the gate apparently did 

not disperse. 

The last part of the video footage 

fleetingly shows use of lathis by the police men upon 

the protestors. 

Thereafter, the recording was stopped 

15and appears to have been resumed after lapse of 

sometime to show some broken glass panes, brickbats in 

very limited number and some broken spectacles lying on 

the ground, a grim reminder of use of force.

No part of the video footage 

shows the crowd to be very large or indulging in any 

physical violence. Even if this version in the counter 

affidavit is accepted in part, one is left to wonder 

why the petitioners who had injuries on their bodies 

had to be arrested instead of allowing them to disperse 

with the crowd which was allegedly large and violent. 

It is also intriguing as to why the FIR bearing 

No.251/13 for rioting etc. was registered at 5.35 p.m. 

after eighteen persons were apprehended at 3.30 p.m. 

and not before their arrest if they had vandalized the 

18police station and caused damage to the public 

property.

There is no 

dispute that petitioners have received injuries but 

according to counter affidavit, these were due to some 

of the protestors falling down on the vehicles parked 

17along the walls of the compound and there was no lathi 

charge or any act of beating of the protestors. Such 

statement in paragraph 5 of the counter affidavit 

cannot be accepted in view of the last part of the 

video footage already noted earlier.

 

Writ Allowed:- 

In that view of the 

matter, the writ petition is disposed of with the 

following directions:-

(1) Investigation of FIR No.251/13, as per 

order of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, dated 

31.10.2013 shall be carried out by Special 

Investigation Team and not by the police officials 

of P.S. Gokul Puri.

(2) The complaint of the petitioners as made 

before this Court regarding violation of their 

fundamental right to life and liberty shall be 

enquired into by the National Human Rights 

Commission expeditiously. For that purpose the 

Commission may use its statutory powers including 

those under Sections 13 and 14 of the Protection 

of Human Rights Act, 1993.

23(3) The Commission shall take further required 

steps and action as per law after concluding the 

enquiry/investigation so that persons(s) found 

guilty may be subjected to required penalty 

according to law, without undue delay.

21. The writ petition is allowed to the aforesaid 

extent.

 

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
ORIGINAL CIVIL WRIT JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.446 OF 2013
BEENU RAWAT & ORS … PETITIONERS
VS.
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. … RESPONDENTS
J U D G M E N T
SHIVA KIRTI SINGH,J.
The petitioners claim to be young volunteers of
‘Aam Aadmi Party’ (AAP) engaged in selfless work for
the improvement of democratic institutions of this
country and also fight for justice. They have
approached this Court under Article 32 of the
Constitution of India seeking the following reliefs:“(a) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other
writ or direction to order an independent
investigation by a Special Investigation
Team into the abovementioned incident of
police atrocities which took place on
19.06.2013 at Gokul Puri Police Station
against the petitioners and if such
allegations are found correct, pass further
consequential and necessary directions,
including initiation of criminal
prosecution as well as disciplinary
proceedings against the police officers of
the Delhi Police found involved and also
against those senior police officers at
whose behest this vindictive act of
atrocity was done;
(b) issue a writ of mandamus or any other
writ or direction to award monetary
compensation to the petitioners for their
illegal arrest and torture by the Delhi
Police which has resulted in gross
violation of their fundamental rights to
live with dignity as guaranteed under
Article 21 of the Constitution of India;
(c) pass such other and further order/s as
this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper
on the facts and in the circumstances of
the case.”
2. The incident of 19.06.2013 at Gokal Puri Police
Station in Delhi which is mentioned in prayer no. (a)
noted above, occurred in course of a protest by the
volunteers of (AAP) at Gokal Puri Police Station since
2morning hours. The protestors wanted registration of an
FIR in respect of an alleged occurrence of rape of a
poor woman by two persons in Bhagirathi Vihar.
Allegedly the police was reluctant to register the FIR
and hence a number of volunteers including the
petitioners joined the protest. The FIR was ultimately
registered around 2.30 p.m. and the protestors were
informed of the same. A demand was made for a copy of
the FIR. According to respondents the copy could not
be given to others because of the nature of the alleged
crime which requires that name of the victim be not
disclosed. According to petitioners the copy of the
FIR was not given even to victim’s husband. It is the
case of the petitioners that when they were planning to
wind up the protest, they were suddenly rounded up by a
large number of policemen and mercilessly beaten by
them. The manner of chase and beating by lathi gave an
impression to the petitioners that the police action
was not to disperse the petitioners but to teach them a
lesson. As per allegations, the police also used
3abusive language and told the protestors that they will
be taught a lesson so that they do not indulge in such
kind of protests in future. Initially, police arrested
seventeen volunteers but three of them were let off as
they were minor girls. Subsequently, petitioner Nos. 2
and 10 were also taken into custody and allegedly
beaten in police custody although they claimed that
they had come to the police station later only to
enquire about the incident. The nineteen petitioners
claim to have sustained serious injuries on head, back,
arm and legs. One of them (petitioner no.17) has
sustained fracture in lower ulna but he managed to run
away.
3. According to the case of the petitioners the police
had indulged in unlawful use of force and inflicted
injuries before arrest and also during custody, leading
to injuries to the petitioners; the arrest was unlawful
which is sought to be justified by fabricated evidence
for rioting etc.; by breaking window glasses and
4tearing of some papers in the police station. According
to the petitioners a serious case was attempted to be
made out through subsequent statement of one ASI of
police, Ms. Sushila. There is no such incident
mentioned in the FIR bearing no. 251/2013 dated
19.06.2013 registered at P.S. Gokul Puri and even
before the learned Metropolitan Magistrate she had
alleged that only her scarf (dupatta) was pulled by
protestors. The petitioners have claimed that the
Commissioner of police, Delhi, has made an incorrect
statement that Delhi police has videos of protestors
vandalizing the police station. To decide the case it
is not necessary for this Court to delve deep into
allegations made by the petitioners or those against
them by the police which has lodged a criminal case of
rioting etc. as noted above. This is because there is
no prayer made in this writ petition seeking any kind
of intervention in the investigation of police case
registered against the petitioners. Even the first
prayer made by the petitioners is to order an
5independent investigation by a Special Investigation
Team (SIT) into the incident of 19.06.2013 to find out
the truthfulness of allegations of police atrocities
and if such allegations are found right then further
consequential orders be passed for criminal prosecution
as well as disciplinary action against the concerned
police officers. Hence, the issue before the Court is
a limited one requiring a careful appraisal of relevant
facts and circumstances for coming to a conclusion as
to whether the petitioners have made out a case for
issuing a direction to order an independent
investigation into the alleged incident of 19.06.2013
at Gokal Puri Police Station, Delhi or not.
4. In this background a look at the counter affidavit
on behalf of the respondents discloses that the version
given by the police attempts to portray a picture that
when the prosecutrix or the victim of alleged rape came
to the police station along with her husband at about
9.00 a.m. on 19.06.2013, the S.H.O. immediately deputed
6a lady A.S.I., Ms. Sushila to investigate into the
matter and a female counselor, Mrs. Dinesh Panchal from
a local NGO was also called for the aid of prosecutrix.
A Daily Diary entry to this effect bearing no.11-A was
made at 9.10 a.m. and a statement of the victim was
recorded by the lady A.S.I. in presence of counselor
from the NGO. On that basis FIR No. 250/13 was
registered under Section 376-D/506 of the Indian Penal
Code at 10.05 a.m. and thereafter the victim was sent
for medical examination to Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital,
New Delhi. The fact of lodging of the FIR was conveyed
to the protestors but still by 12.00 noon their number
increased to 100-125 which included 20-25 women. A
lady ASI was deputed to control the female protestors.
Demand for getting a copy of FIR was declined by the
S.H.O. with a view not to reveal the identity of the
victim.
5. It is found that the counter version does not deny
or even refer to the presence of husband of the victim
7and there is no disclosure of any reason as to why copy
of the FIR was not supplied to the victim or her
husband. Had that been done, the bone of contention
between the rivals could have been totally taken care
of.
6. According to the counter affidavit the protestors
were all around the compound of the police station and
had also entered the corridor thus blocking the entry
and exit of the officials and obstructing them in
performing their official duties. The protestors
climbed the compound walls and shouted slogans. They
abused the police officials and some of them pelted
stones causing damage to building windows and vehicles.
The police staff was trapped inside the police station
being out-numbered by the large number of protestors.
The violent acts of the crowd allegedly caused injuries
to five police personnels. Their injury reports have
been annexed as Annexure R.1 (colly). The lady A.S.I.
engaged in controlling the women protestors was
8manhandled by the crowd and sustained injuries. To
support the claim that protestors had entered the
premises, blocked entry to the police station, pelted
stones and damaged public property, some photographs
have been brought on record as Annexure R.2 (colly).
7. Paragraph 5 of the counter affidavit is crucial as
it relates to the most significant part of the incident
in which injuries were caused to some of the
petitioners leading to their arrest. Paragraph 5 runs
as follows:-
“5. As the crowd had become
uncontrollable, the SHO, PS Gokul Puri
reported the situation to the senior
officers and asked for the deployment of
additional police force from adjoining
Police Stations, PS Jyoti Nagar and PS
Bhajan Pura, to control the crowd. With the
help of the additional force, efforts were
made to disperse the crowd and help the
officials trapped inside the Police Station
Gokul Puri. Arrival of the additional
force from the adjoining police stations
created panic amongst the protestors and
they started dispersing in various
directions. Some of the protestors who had
climbed the walls of the Police Station
fell down on the vehicles parked by the
wall and sustained injuries on their own.
9There was no lathi charge or any act of
beating of the protestors as wrongly
alleged by the Petitioners.”
8. It has also been disclosed in the counter affidavit
that till 3.30 p.m. eighteen persons were apprehended
on the spot which included three minor girls, four
women and eleven men. FIR was registered against the
protestors bearing no.251/13 at 5.35 p.m. The three
minor girls were let off at about 7.00 p.m. when their
parents arrived. The remaining fifteen were however
arrested. They were sent for medical examination to
Ram Manohar Lohiya Hospital and then produced before
the Duty Magistrate at 2.20 a.m. in the morning and
then sent to Tihar jail. Petitioner No. 10-Narender
Rawat, brother of minor petitioner no.1 Beenu Rawat and
also petitioner no.4-Pushpa is claimed to have been
arrested in the morning of 20.06.2013 because he had
escaped on the previous date. Petitioner No.17 along
with four other persons had also allegedly escaped and
they were arrested on 21.08.2013.
109. In paragraph 8 of the counter affidavit a
submission has been advanced that petitioners are
trying to mislead this Court by making wrong
allegations that police used excessive force against
them. The defense in this paragraph is that the
protestors had outnumbered and over run the police
officers at police station Gokal Puri, obstructing them
from performing their official duties and caused damage
to public property on the pretext of helping a rape
victim.
10. According to respondents, there was no lapse on
behalf of the police to help the prosecutrix and the
police resorted to the minimal use of force only enough
to disperse the large violent crowd and safeguard the
police personnel trapped inside the police station.
11. As indicated earlier, at the present stage when the
criminal case is under investigation it will not be
proper for this Court to finally decide any issue
11relating to that case. The pendency of investigation
in that case notwithstanding, this Court has to decide
the limited issue whether petitioners have made out a
case that their fundamental right to live with human
dignity guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of
India has been invaded, atleast prima facie, so as to
direct for an independent investigation/enquiry so that
the perpetrators may not get away scot free if
petitioners’ case is found true.
12. In part III of the Constitution of India Article
21 enjoys special status. Right to life and Right to
liberty are of historical importance. Rise of modern
democratic state is attributable to a long drawn battle
waged by ordinary people against the sovereign power.
The law is now well settled that the State or its
functionaries cannot deprive any person of his life
which includes right to live with human dignity except
in accordance with law. The maximum threat to such
fundamental right is perceptible when any kind of
12protest or agitation is directed against the police
force for reasons which are self-evident. Police is
licensed to carry arms for protecting the people. This
itself creates a situation where the power of arms may
be misused under the mistaken belief in the absolutism
of the police power or on account of lack of
sensitivity to the democratic rights of the people to
register peaceful protest, against wrongs, especially
that of public functionaries. The submissions on
behalf of respondents that nobody can be permitted to
paralyse the functioning of police or other State
institutions in a name of public protest can not be
rejected off hand because it is only a corollary of the
right to protest peacefully; proverbially the other
side of the coin which corroborates the well accepted
principle that rights without duties tend to degenerate
into license for misuse of rights. In a given case,
the facts may lead to such conclusions. Hence facts
and circumstances in such cases need to be scrutinized
carefully.
1313. In the present case also the relevant facts require
to be noticed in order to arrive at a conclusion
whether the petitioners’ prayers deserve to be allowed
or not. The petitioners are ordinary persons with
clean antecedents. The injuries caused to the
petitioners in the incident have not been denied as
they are supported by medical reports. So far as
injuries to some of the police officers are concerned,
instead of forming our own opinion, we may only refer
to the order dated 22.06.2013 passed by the Vacation
Judge (NE)/Additional Sessions Judge contained in
Annexure P.11. While granting bail to 11 applicants, in
paragraph 6, the learned Judge had noted that the MLCs
of five police officials indicate that they have
suffered from minor injuries which were in the form of
scratches and abrasion only and the FIR does not
indicate that the lady police officials were assaulted
or any attempt to outrage their modesty was made by the
accused persons.
1414. Since a claim was made that unlawful acts of the
protestors had been recorded through videography which
was available with the respondents, learned Additional
Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra made arrangements for
screening of the video tape for our perusal. The video
footage shown to us revealed that none of the
protestors were carrying any arms or even brickbats in
course of the protest. The initial part of the
incident discloses lack of any bitterness and almost a
friendly atmosphere. Thereafter, when copy of the FIR
was shown from a distance but not made available to any
one, the slogans increased and the tone could be
perceived by some persons as irritating. Barring some
protestors rest were pushed out of the gate of police
station without any resistance or any untoward
incident. The crowd outside the gate apparently did
not disperse. The last part of the video footage
fleetingly shows use of lathis by the police men upon
the protestors. Thereafter, the recording was stopped
15and appears to have been resumed after lapse of
sometime to show some broken glass panes, brickbats in
very limited number and some broken spectacles lying on
the ground, a grim reminder of use of force.
15. Learned senior counsel for the petitioners Mr.
Shanti Bhushan has relied upon some past incidents,
specially one relating to unfortunate death of a police
constable in the course of demonstration against the
gang rape to a paramedical student “Damini” in
December, 2012, followed by another unfortunate case of
a five years’ old victim “Gudiya” which led to protest
by members of AAP and in course of the same petitioner
no.1 was slapped by an Assistant Commissioner of Police
of Delhi force which led to suspension of the said ACP.
He also referred to some allegations against the
erstwhile Delhi Police commissioner. On the basis of
those incidents and allegation it was submitted that
Delhi police cannot be relied for fair investigation in
a case of present nature involving members of ‘AAP’ and
16therefore the Court should order for fair investigation
by an independent agency.
16. On the other hand, Mr. Luthra submitted that police
itself acted fairly and did not submit charge-sheet
against any of the accused persons arrested for causing
death of constable Subhash Tomar. He pointed out that
the concerned ACP who had slapped petitioner No.1 was
placed under suspension. According to him the
allegations that the erstwhile Delhi Police
Commissioner was close to a white collared criminal,
has no substance and that matter cannot have any effect
upon the investigation of the present incident.
17. In our considered view it is not necessary to
examine the effect of earlier incidents for the purpose
of deciding the present writ petition. There is no
dispute that petitioners have received injuries but
according to counter affidavit, these were due to some
of the protestors falling down on the vehicles parked
17along the walls of the compound and there was no lathi
charge or any act of beating of the protestors. Such
statement in paragraph 5 of the counter affidavit
cannot be accepted in view of the last part of the
video footage already noted earlier. A glimpse of
action taken by the police is available in paragraph 8
of the counter affidavit wherein it is claimed that
Police resorted to minimal use of force which was only
enough to disperse a large violent crowd and safeguard
the police personnel. No part of the video footage
shows the crowd to be very large or indulging in any
physical violence. Even if this version in the counter
affidavit is accepted in part, one is left to wonder
why the petitioners who had injuries on their bodies
had to be arrested instead of allowing them to disperse
with the crowd which was allegedly large and violent.
It is also intriguing as to why the FIR bearing
No.251/13 for rioting etc. was registered at 5.35 p.m.
after eighteen persons were apprehended at 3.30 p.m.
and not before their arrest if they had vandalized the
18police station and caused damage to the public
property.
18. In the light of the aforesaid discussions and the
fact that the video footage recorded at the instance of
the police does not show acts of rioting or any arms or
brickbats in the hands of the protestors and the
recording was stopped as soon as police started using
lathis upon the protestor, we are left with no option
but to hold, at least prima facie, that in the incident
in question, peaceful protestors were subjected to
beating by lathis etc. by the police force which
included policemen from the concerned police station as
well as force called from adjoining police station,
P.S. Jyoti Nagar and P.S. Bhajanpura. The counter
version of the respondents that the petitioners
indulged in rioting and damaged public property is
neither supported by photographs contained in Annexure
R.2 (colly) nor by the video footage shows to this
Court. In that view of the matter, the whole incident
19of 19.06.2013 at Gokul Puri Police Station, District
North-East, Delhi requires to be investigated/enquired
by an independent agency or by a Special Investigation
Team. Considering the possibility of our arriving at
this opinion we had requested learned counsel for the
rival parties to provide us proposals containing names
of some persons who could be entrusted with conducting
investigation in the said incident. On behalf of the
petitioners two names have been proposed which are as
follows:
1. Sh. I.C.Dwivedi, IPS (RTD.),
Former Director General of Police,
Uttar Pradesh,
Address: 9/26, Vishal Khand, Gomati
Nagar, Lucknow.
2. Sh. N.Dilip Kumar, IPS (Retired)
Special Commissioner Delhi Police
also worked as Joint Commissioner of
police (Vigilance) Delhi Police
Worked in CBI for seven years
20Address: 16 A, Rajpura Road, Civil
Lines, Delhi.
19. On the other hand, on behalf of the respondents
only a letter addressed to Sh. Sidharth Luthra, leaned
Additional Solicitor General along with copy of an
order dated 31.10.2013 issued from the office of
Commissioner of Police, Delhi, has been submitted to us
to show that since during the course of hearing of this
matter this Court had expressed the need for an
impartial or fair investigation by some other competent
setup, the Commissioner of Police Delhi has approved
for formation of a Special Investigation Team headed by
Sh. Bhisham Singh DCP/Crime to work under close
supervision of Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime,
Delhi.
20. So far as investigation of the FIR No. 251/13 is
concerned, in our considered view it has rightly been
transferred from police station Gokal Puri to a Special
Investigation Team. However that can not take care of
the petitioners’ grievances that they have been
21subjected to excessive use of force and abuses etc. and
that the force used was not at all justified and hence
they have been deprived of their fundamental right to a
life of dignity. In view of our prima facie findings
noted above, we are of the view that the grievances of
the petitioners require investigation by an authority
having statutory jurisdiction in such matters. If the
State had itself suggested names of the persons who
could constitute Special Investigation Team for the
purpose, the matter would have been different and we
could have considered to direct for formation of such a
team by the State by selecting persons from the names
suggested by the parties. But in the absence of such
option, we direct the National Human Rights Commission
to enquire into the complaint of the petitioners
regarding violation of their fundamental rights
particularly one under Article 21 of the Constitution
of India. Such direction is granted in view of Section
12(A) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
Under that Act the definition of “Human Rights” is
22large enough to include rights relating to life,
liberty, equality and dignity of the individual
guaranteed by the Constitution. In that view of the
matter, the writ petition is disposed of with the
following directions:-
(1) Investigation of FIR No.251/13, as per
order of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, dated
31.10.2013 shall be carried out by Special
Investigation Team and not by the police officials
of P.S. Gokul Puri.
(2) The complaint of the petitioners as made
before this Court regarding violation of their
fundamental right to life and liberty shall be
enquired into by the National Human Rights
Commission expeditiously. For that purpose the
Commission may use its statutory powers including
those under Sections 13 and 14 of the Protection
of Human Rights Act, 1993.
23(3) The Commission shall take further required
steps and action as per law after concluding the
enquiry/investigation so that persons(s) found
guilty may be subjected to required penalty
according to law, without undue delay.
21. The writ petition is allowed to the aforesaid
extent.
…………………………………………………J.
(G.S. Singhvi)
…………………………………………………J.
(Shiva Kirti Singh)
…………………………………………………J.
(C. Nagappan)
New Delhi,
November 19, 2013
24ITEM NO.1A COURT NO.3 SECTION PIL
(for Judgment)
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO(s). 446 OF 2013
BEENU RAWAT & ORS. Petitioner(s)
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. Respondent(s)
Date: 19/11/2013 This Petition was called on for Judgment
today.
For Petitioner(s)
Mr. Prashant Bhushan,Adv.
For Respondent(s)
Mr. D.S. Mahra ,Adv
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shiva Kirti Singh
pronounced the Judgment of the Bench comprising
Hon’ble Mr. Justice G.S. Singhvi, His Lordship and
Hon’ble Mr. Justice C. Nagappan.
The Writ Petition is allowed to the extent
indicated in the Judgment.
(Rajesh Dham) (Renu Diwan)
Court Master Court Master
(signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)
25

 

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