Awarding a compensation of Rs two lakh to an accused who was handcuffed by the police and allegedly paraded, the Karnataka High Court has said that “an accused who is arrested can normally not be handcuffed.” To ensure that the manner of arrests are recorded, the court directed the Director General of Police to make available body cameras to all the police officers entitled to arrest a person, so that the manner of arrest is recorded by such cameras.”
Justice Suraj Govindaraj at the Dharwad bench of the HC in his order said he issued directions on when accused persons, under trials and convicts, can be handcuffed.
“It is only under extreme circumstances that handcuffing of an accused can be resorted to. When such handcuffing is made, the arresting Officer is required to record the reasons for handcuffing, which would have to sustain the scrutiny of the Court”, it said.
The HC also said that police have to seek permission of the trial court to handcuff the under trials who are produced before the trial courts.
“If no such permission is applied for and under trial prisoners were to be handcuffed, the concerned police officer would be taking a risk of such handcuffing being declared illegal and action being taken against them,” it said.
Regarding body cameras, the camera shall also be equipped with a microphone to record the conversations that take place at that particular point of time. The video recording as also audio recording shall be retained at least for a period of one year from the date of recording.”
Suprit Ishwar Divate, a law student, was returning from an exam when police arrested him in the marketplace of Ankali in Chikkodi taluk of Belagavi district. He was handcuffed and paraded and taken in a public bus to the Chikkodi police station.
In a dispute with another person, Divate was facing cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act for dishonouring cheques. Five Criminal cases had also been filed against him and a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. He was arrested in this connection.
Divate approached the HC seeking a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for this act of the police. He also submitted video evidence of the act which the police themselves had recorded.
The Arresting Officer or the prosecution failed to produce any objections to the demand made by Divate. The court therefore went ahead to award him the compensation.
However, the HC said the video does not show him being paraded in town and therefore there was no need to pay him exemplary compensation, and noted that he was also a student and the arrest was made based on a non-bailable warrant.
Therefore, “the arrest being proper; the only question being handcuffing of the petitioner not being required, I deem it fit to award a sum of Rs 2 lakhs as compensation to the petitioner payable by the State within a period of six weeks,” the court said.
In its directions, the HC said, “No person whether he be an accused, under trial prisoner or convict shall be handcuffed unless the reason for the same is recorded in the case diary and/or the relevant record as to why such a person is required to be handcuffed.”
In one more direction to trial courts, the judge said, “The trial Court shall endeavor as far as possible to avoid physical appearance of the under-trial prisoner and permit the under-trial prisoner to appear through video conferencing.”
Though Divate’s petition was disposed of, the HC has directed the case to be heard on November 7, 2022 to check the compliance of the other general directions it has issued to the police.