Tarn Taran brutality: SC rejects report giving clean chit to cops
New Delhi, April 4
The DM’s report “is thoroughly misleading”, besides containing factual errors, a Bench of Justices GS Singhvi and Kurian Joseph said in its order passed after hearing pleas for a CBI inquiry into the incident.
During arguments that lasted over an hour, the Bench held out the threats of suspending the DM, imposing “heavy penalty” on the Punjab Government and summoning the state police chief, but did not make these part of its order, which merely indicted the state for its role in the entire issue.
“We are of the opinion that the Punjab Government has not taken corrective measures and no effort has been made to address the grievance of the victims of police atrocities,” the Bench said in the order.
The state government said Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were already providing personal security to the victims. However, the Bench made it clear that there was no point in asking the state police or any personnel under the state government to protect the victims.
Assisting the Bench as amicus curiae, senior counsel Harish Salve strongly pleaded for a CBI inquiry as the police had taken action against the victims, instead of the erring police officials or the taxi drivers who had sexually harassed the girl.
“It is shocking that a magistrate had the audacity to tell the apex court that the police had to lathicharge the girl and her father to maintain law and order. To add insult to injury, the police extracted an apology letter from the father,” Salve said.
Instead of unleashing brutality on the victims, the police should have arrested the constables on the non-bailable charge of committing a crime under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, he said.
The Bench said the state government had apparently ordered the magisterial inquiry after the SC had taken suo motu notice of the incident. Appearing for Punjab, Additional Solicitor General Sidharth Luthra said this was not correct. At this, the Bench said the officers would have fabricated the records for the purpose.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati also expressed shock over the fact that the victim’s father had been made to apologise for the incident which invited a sarcastic comment from the Bench: “The father is lucky to be still alive.”
ASG Luthra said the lathicharge was the result of an altercation with some policemen in which their turbans were removed. Unconvinced, the Bench wanted to know whether any FIR had been registered to this effect. It also asked if the girl or her father was wielding any weapons. Further, it wanted to know the nature of injuries suffered by the taxi drivers, who according to the government, had been attacked by the family members of the girl’s family. Luthra said the taxi drivers were absconding. The Bench said it showed the “efficiency” of the state police.
The Bench also questioned the logic of the Punjab Police chief going on television just a day after the girl was thrashed to defend the police action. Salve said this was the first time in decades of his legal practice that he had across such an atrocious incident.
During the arguments, the Bench also made it clear that the police and the government had to produce video records to defend themselves. “Tell us the TV channels have produced fake videos. Only that can go in your favour. Are you denying the incident? What was the crime the lady had committed for which she had to be thrashed on the highway in full public view?”
The SC also made it clear that this incident was symbolic of what was happening in most parts of the country on a regular basis. Police had thrashed the girl and her father when they wanted to lodge a complaint against the taxi drivers for eve-teasing her and making vulgar comments.
The Bench posted the next hearing in the case, instituted by the court itself after taking suo motu notice of the incident, for April 11, indicating that it would pass an order keeping the larger need to prevent such happenings in future.