SC: Punjab SHO denied pre-arrest bail in custodial torture case

The petitioner had approached the apex court challenging the Punjab and Haryana HC order denying him anticipatory bail as the SIT found some truth in allegations


The Supreme Court, on September 1, dismissed a Special Leave Petition seeking anticipatory bail of Inspector Baljinder Singh who has been accused of making 3 persons stand naked in his cabin and passing casteist remarks. He was the SHO of Khanna Police station in Punjab and has been denied anticipatory bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Hence, he had approached the Supreme Court.


An FIR was registered against him on July 4, under sections 166-A [Whoever, being a public servant, knowingly disobeys any direction of the law], 295-A [Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings], 323 [Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt], 342 [Punishment for wrongful confinement] of IPC, Section 3(1)(iv) [wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land owned by SCT/ST], 3(1)(v) [wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land] of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, Section 67 of the Punjab Police Act, 2007 and Section 666 (E) [Punishment for violation of privacy], 67 (A) [Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act] of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

It was alleged by the complainant, Jagpal Singh, that he had a land dispute with one Rajvir Singh, with whom Inspector Baljinder has close relations. Baljinder illegally picked up the complainant, his minor son and a worker took them to a police station, where they were humiliated and tortured; a video of the torture inflicted was recorded and uploaded on the internet as well. The minor son of the complainant was allegedly disrobed while the video was being recorded. A complaint was made to the Inspector General of Police, Ludhiana Range on April 16 and a Special Investigation Team was constituted which only directed disciplinary proceedings, but no FIR was registered. May 22, the High Court directed another SIT with Additional Director General of Police as the head and on June 24 it submitted the report whereby it found certain allegations against the petitioner, Baljinder, to have been proved and recommended registration of the FIR.

The High Court’s decision

The Punjab and Haryana High Court while hearing the Anticipatory bail petition of Baljinder on August 11, observed that the incident took place in his office and he cannot escape responsibility even though he claims he was not in office during the incident.

“As the Station House Officer, he is responsible for anything and everything that happens in his police station. From the evidence of SIT, it is evident that the police exceeded its mandate and tortured the complainant party,” held the single judge bench of Justice Sudhir Mittal.

While dismissing the anticipatory bail plea, the court held, “This is unacceptable in a society governed by the rule of law and needs to be dealt with a firm hand. Persons like the petitioner, do not deserve any kind of discretionary relief at the hands of this Court.”

The Punjab and Haryana High Court order may be read here.


The Supreme Court order

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph stated, “We are not inclined to entertain the Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. The Special Leave Petition is accordingly dismissed.”

This order came in the Special Leave Petition filed by Baljinder challenging the high court order contending that the high court’s interpretation of facts and law was flawed as it failed to apply its mind and ruled against him without providing any valid reason, as reported by The Tribune.

The Supreme Court order may be read here.



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