On October 16, the five victims in the Kheda public flogging case refused to compromise and settle with the four police officers accused of publicly flogging them. The said decision of the Muslim victims was relayed to the Gujarat High Court by Senior advocate Prakash Jani, who is representing the accused police personnel.
The said decision came after contempt proceedings were initiated by the High Court against the police officers and the accused officers had indicated that it would be preferable if the matter between the two parties could be settled through compensation instead of the officers have to face compensation that could affect their careers. On October 11, the charged policemen, namely Inspector AV Parmar, sub-inspector DB Kumavat, Constable Rajubhai Rameshbhai Dabhi and head constable Kanaksinh Laxmansinh, had submitted to the court that in case they were found guilty by the court, they may be asked to provide appropriate compensation to the complainants instead of facing a punishment. They had also urged to court to consider that the accused police officers have been serving the state of Gujarat since the past 10-15 years. Notably, during the same hearing, they had also stated that the act of flogging by hitting the complainant victims on their buttocks does not amount to custodial torture.
Upon this, during the last hearing, the division bench had directed lawyers from both sides to take appropriate instructions from the complainants.
Senior advocate Jani orally informed the High Court that despite the best efforts on the part of their lawyer, he said the complainants have decided “not to resolve issues” by accepting compensation. As per the report of Indian Express, advocate Jani stated “We had a very constructive, intensive meeting with senior advocate I H Syed (representing the victims) and his three colleagues. In fact, some of the petitioners were also there and we had parted company on a very positive note as per my understanding. But thereafter, in spite of the best efforts of the opposite side (representing the victims), I’ve received the message that the clients (victims) have decided after (consulting) their relatives or community persons, not to resolve the issue.”
Upon the aforementioned submission, the division bench of Justices AS Supehia and Gita Gopi recorded that the “parties have failed in settlement” and that “the complainants do not intend to enter into compromise”. The dictation of the final order has now been fixed for October 19.
It is essential to note that the contempt charges had been framed by the High Court against the four police officers on October 4 after the following the inquiry by a Nadiad magistrate where the court had identified four of the 13 accused police officers from videos and photos of the incident. The contempt proceeding charges provided that the officers violated the Supreme Court guidelines issued in the case of DK Basu vs. State of West Bengal, which provided for compliance with the proper procedure before arresting any individual. Notably, the CJM Court Nadiad had been directed by the High Court in July 2023 to analyse the pen drives and other electronic evidence including videos relating to the incident.
Background of the case:
In October 2022, a group of Muslim men had allegedly thrown stones at a garba site near a mosque at Undhela village of Kheda. The following day, five Muslims accused of being involved in the incident had been dragged out in public, tied to a pole and beaten with a stick by almost 13 police officers as the crowd had cheered them on. Videos of the flogging went viral on social media. The video also showed the five Muslim men being asked to apologise to the public.
Victims Jahirmiya Malek (aged 62) Maksudabanu Malek (aged 45) Sahadmiya Malek (aged 23) Sakilmiya Malek (aged 24) and Shahidraja Malek (aged 25) had moved the Gujarat High Court in October 2022 itself seeking action against the 13 offending police officers. They had asked the High court to “punish the accused officers for contempt and non-compliance” of the directions enunciated by the Supreme Court in the D. K Basu case. In the said case, the Supreme Court had pronounced detailed guidelines to be followed by the police during arrest and detention and on custodial torture.