Thursday, May 30, 2024

Supreme Court says police brutality matter of great concern

The bench noted that the beating of a person in the police station was a matter of concern and causes a “sense of fear in the entire society.

The Supreme Court has said, when police instead of protecting people adopts brutality and inhumanly beat the person who comes to the police station, it is a matter of great public concern, while it refuses to acquit duo who are more than 75-years-old, convicted for causing death of a man in their custody. 

However, the court reduced their one year sentence to six-months in view of the amount of compensation given to the family of the deceased and considering their old age. The apex Court awarded the compensation of the amount 3.5 lakh to the deceased family, which is above the compensation awarded by the High Court of Odisha. The amount of compensation was agreeable to the family of the deceased person who died after being beaten up in police custody by two police officers. 

The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilized society. The offence committed by the accused is crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” 

-said the two-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan & Ajay Rastogi. 

The court said, “end of Justice to be served”, while reducing the sentence of one year under Section 324/34 IPC to six-months. 

Section 324 in the Indian Penal Code 324. Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.—Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 334, volun­tarily causes hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stab­bing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to in­hale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either de­scription for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

The Supreme Court has noted that the trial court as well as the High Court have adverted to the marshalling of oral evidence by both the Courts below as well as analysis of the documentary evidence on record where evidence of PW.1, who was the informant and eye-witness has rightly been believed by the trial court and the High court to the fact that both deceased and informant arrived at Police Station after 7.30 p.m. and they were mercilessly beaten by Choudhury and Mohanty. In spite of Varandah of the Police Station washed in the morning by the sweeper, the scientific officer, who visited the police station found the blood stains in the Varandah.”

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The Court also referred to the judgment of Court in Yashwant and others vs. State of Maharashtra, (2019) 18 SCC 571where this Court laid down that when the police is violator of the law whose primary responsibility is to protect the law, the punishment for such violation has to be proportionately stringent so as to have effective deterrent effect and instill confidence in the society. Following was laid down in paragraph 34: – 

“34. As the police in this case are the violators of law, who had the primary responsibility to protect and uphold law, 30 thereby mandating the punishment for such violation to be proportionately stringent so as to have effective deterrent effect and instill confidence in the society. It may not be out of context to remind that the motto of Maharashtra State Police is “Sadrakshnaya Khalanighrahanaya” (Sanskrit: “To protect good and to punish evil”), which needs to be respected. Those, who are called upon to administer the criminal law, must bear, in mind, that they have a duty not merely to the individual accused before them, but also to the State and to the community at large. Such incidents involving police usually tend to deplete the confidence in our criminal justice system much more than those incidents involving private individuals. We must additionally factor this aspect while imposing an appropriate punishment on the accused herein.”  

The Court further stated that the observations as quoted above are fully attracted in the facts of the present case. “We, thus, are of the considered opinion that present is a case where this Court is not to grant leave for compounding the offences under Section 324 IPC as prayed by the counsel for the appellants. The present is a case where the accused who were police officers, one of them being in-charge of Station and other Senior Inspector have themselves brutally beaten the deceased, who died the same night. Their offences cannot be compounded by the  Court in exercise of Section 320(2) read with subsection (5). We, thus, reject the prayer of the appellants to compound the offence,” said the Court. 

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“Looking to the facts that both the appellants are more than 75 years of age now, we are of the considered opinion that the ends of justice be served in reducing the sentence awarded for conviction under Section 324 IPC to six months instead of one year. Additionally the legal heirs of the deceased can be compensated by the compensation which has been offered and deposited by the appellant in this Court. Thus, sentence of one year is reduced to six months by awarding compensation of Rs.3.5 Lakhs each to the legal heir of the deceased in addition to the compensation awarded by the High Court. The compensation deposited in this Court shall be remitted to the trial court who may pay the same to the  legal heirs of the deceased. The affidavit has been filed before us that the deceased had four sons, his wife is dead, the entire amount be disbursed equally to two sons who are alive and heirs of two deceased sons,” 

-the Court noted in its order. 



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