The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently dismissed a Habeas Corpus petition with a cost of Rs. 50,000 to be paid by the petitioner to the alleged “detenue” while observing that a very old man had been unnecessarily harassed.
The petitioner, Jaswant Brar, filed the petition for appointment of a warrant officer to produce Sadhu Singh, aged about 85 years who has been illegally detained by private respondents and to hand over his custody to the petitioner for his medical treatment and to save his life.
On 26.02.2020, the private respondents had been directed to produce the alleged detenue, i.e. Sadhu Singh, in court on the next date of hearing, i.e. 17.04.2020, but with the matter not having come up thereafter till 02.07.2021 (on account of ongoing pandemic), he was directed to be present via video conferencing on the next date of hearing. On September 9 , Sadhu Singh was produced in court.
A single-judge bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh noted that Sadhu Singh seems to be a very old man and upon being asked, stated that he is about 80 years old. He was asked where he stays and with whom, upon which he stated that he lives in village Darapur, District Moga, with his sons, namely Kulwant Singh and Omkar Singh (private respondents).
Upon a query put to him as to whether he is living there of his own will or is being forced to reside there, Sadhu Singh has stated twice before the Court that he is staying there wholly voluntary.
The High Court further noted that petition is one filed by another son of the alleged detenue, with the said son, i.e. the petitioner, admittedly living abroad most of the time in England/Germany being a German citizen. A query was put to Sadhu Singh as to whether he wishes to live abroad with the petitioner to which he has emphatically said “no”.
“That question has been put to him through learned State counsel as, being tired, he has sat down behind and is unable to hear this court, and otherwise also seems to be slightly hard of hearing; but with all questions put to him very obviously having been understood by him and he having replied accordingly before this court.”
An affidavit has also been filed by the SSP, Moga, dated 26.02.2020, stating therein that an enquiry was conducted and the Sadhu Singh was produced in the court of the Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Moga, on 03.02.2020 for recording his statement under the provisions of Section 164 of the CrPC; wherein he also categorically stated that he has three sons, i.e. Jaswant Singh, Omkar Singh and Kulwant Singh, with Jaswant Singh, i.e. the petitioner, residing abroad for the past about 40 years and that during that period he had never provided any daily necessities to him.
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Yet again, he stated before that court also (as per the said affidavit), that Sadhu Singh was residing with his son Omkar Singh ‘with his own consent’. The SSP has also stated that the statements of other respectable persons of the locality were recorded, and as per that enquiry it was found that Sadhu Singh was residing with Omkar Singh of his own accord and had never been detained by either Omkar Singh or Kulwant Singh, as has been alleged in the Petition.
Therefore the Court found no reason to continue with this petition and consequently, dismissed the petition with costs of Rs 50,000 to be paid by the petitioner to the alleged “detenue”, i.e. his father, Sadhu Singh, who has unnecessary been troubled to come, at his age, all the way to the High court, for no reason whatsoever.
“It may be observed here that though counsel for the petitioner (appearing today) has stated that he wishes to withdraw the petition, yet, with a very old man very obviously having been unnecessarily harassed, even if the petitioner were to withdraw the petition, costs would still have been imposed by this court,”
-the order reads.