The Allahabad High Court observed that the petitioners were illegally detained, despite submission of personal bonds in a matter related to family dispute over an ancestral land. It held that this act by the Uttar Pradesh Police was, “a clear breach of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The Varanasi police arrested the petitioners and kept them in illegal detention from October 10 to October 21, 2020 and thus, they filed a writ of mandamus before the High Court for compensation.
The Division Bench of Justices Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Shamim Ahmed noted that the Varanasi Police detained the petitioners under CrPC sections of 151, 107 and 116, citing apprehension of breach of peace on October 8.
After arresting them, the police presented them in front of the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Varanasi and thereafter, the petitioners submitted personal bonds and other papers on October 12. But the SDM refused to release them to review the revenue records and directed that they be released only after the verification process ends.
The Bench perused the counter affidavit filed by the SDM and remarked, “In his counter affidavit, the respondent no.3 has tried to justify his arbitrary action and clear breach of statutory duty cast upon him as well as the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.”
Further, the court explained that under section 111 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, when a Magistrate believes there is a possibility of breach of peace, he/she must make an order in writing setting forth the substance of the information received, the amount of the bond to be executed, the term for which it is to be in force, and the number, character and class of sureties (if any) required.
But in the present case, the court said that all such information was missing in the order given by the Sub Divisional Magistrate and “Thus, it is evident on record that the respondent no.3 has acted arbitrarily and illegally.”
Pulling up the Varanasi administration for irresponsibility, the Bench said, “The facts, afore-noted, leave no room of doubt that the respondent no.3 has acted arbitrarily and not only failed to discharge his duty cast upon him under Section 107 and 111 Cr. PC but also committed breach of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Such types of instances need to be stopped by the State Government.”
The High Court directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to develop a mechanism and also issue appropriate guidelines to ensure that such instances may not repeat again. The court also took into account the State’s submission that monetary compensation will be provided to the aggrieved petitioners for violation of their fundamental rights.
The matter has been listed on March 3, 2021 to hear the personal affidavit of the SDM, Varanasi explaining his conduct.
The order may be read here: