Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu & Kashmir

False Imprisonment is a situation of restricting the movement and freedom of another person without any legal justification or the permission of the restricted person.
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Introduction

False Imprisonment is a situation where a person or any authority intentionally restricts another person’s movement and freedom without any legal justification or the restrained person’s permission. Thus, at times, the arrest is made without any justification and suspicion, and the person who has been arrested is in concern of false Imprisonment. It can give rise to a claim for damages for false Imprisonment. However, keeping in mind the present times, these illegal arrests are made all the time, reflecting the abuse of power. In such situations, the courts should not play the role of a silent spectator rather be pro-active in awarding exemplary costs and compensation to the people who were made a victim of unauthorized arrests. Police officials, in general, violate the Constitutional safeguard for the protection of arrested persons and sometimes, Magistrate may also neglect to act in accordance with the law, and such a situation arose in Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu & Kashmir [AIR 1986 SC 494].

Factual Background

On the midnight of 9th and 10th September, Mr. Bhim Singh, an MLA of Jammu & Kashmir, was arrested and detained in the police custody as a result of which he was unable to attend an important session of the legislative assembly which was supposed to take place on 11th September 1985. He was arrested on the allegations that a case was registered against him under the Section 153A of the Ranbir Penal Code for delivering an agitating speech at a public gathering held on 8th September 1985. However, after his arrest, he was not taken before the Magistrate till 13th September.

Since the whereabouts of Mr. Bhim Singh was not known to his family, a writ of Habeas Corpus was filed before the Supreme Court. After the Supreme Court’s inquiry, it was found that Mr. Bhim Singh was illegally detained by the police either because of some external collaboration or due to the Magistrate’s negligence, who ordered a remand of judicial custody without the production of arrested before the Court. The Apex Court rightly pointed out that the act of Magistrate here was not justified. He acted without any sense of responsibility which violated the constitutional right of the detained guaranteed under Art. 21 and 22(2) of the Constitution.

Issue

Whether the detention made here was illegal and fit for the claims of False Imprisonment?

Petitioner Arguments

The first and the main argument that the Council on behalf of the petitioner presented was against the respondent’s argument that he was not produced before the Magistrate on 11th September and before a sub-judge on 13th September 1985. The petitioners also denied that he was examined by a medical practitioner and was given a medical certificate. However, the petitioners did accept that he was produced before the sub-judge, where he was remanded 2 days of judicial custody. The petitioners also contended that he was illegally detained in the police custody he was subjected to harassment by the police officials.

Respondent’s Arguments

On behalf of the Police authorities, Council contended that a notice was sent to them by the Police Control Room asking them to arrest the petitioner. After the arrest, the petitioner was brought into the district headquarters as per the instructions. They further contended that officers were only instructed to keep a check on the fact of whether the petitioner has travelled safely from the Udhampur Region. They further stated that he was produced before the Executive Magistrate First Class. He was remanded police custody for two days and one more day from the Sub-Judge with the objective that the petitioner was medically ill. The certificate for the same was obtained on 13th September.

Judgment

In the present situation, the Court observed that the police officers who made the arrest had acted simultaneously abusing their power and further opined that, “if the MLA’s liberty is going to be hampered in such a manner, one does not know what will happen and happens to the lesser mortals in the country.” The Court further stated while reminding the police forces their duties that “they are the custodians of law and order and they are the ones who should have respect for the individual’s liberty and should not deviate the law by such illegal detentions. Custodians of law and order should not become the predators of the Individual Liberty of the citizens.

Further, J. Chinnappa Reddy & J. Khalid expressed their concerns that whenever a complaint from a person comes for illegal detention in the police custody has been done to him by the police personal where their constitutional and legal rights were invaded, in such a situation, the invasion cannot be washed away by setting him free, thus in such cases, the courts have the jurisdiction to compensate the victim by awarding compensation through monetary means. They further stated that the present case is appropriate and directed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to pay Mr. Bhim Singh a sum of Rs. 50000/- within 2 months.

Analysis

This tort of false Imprisonment, in a way, is a very severe form of human rights violation. Indian Constitution has been drafted on the principles of non-violence, mutual respect and personal liberty to the citizens. There are some fundamental rights and immunities granted to the prisoners, and violation of those rights because of torture in prison will fail justice to a living being. Article 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the same, and if these rights are contravened, the Constitution seeks to protect the convicts.   

The right to personal liberty and freedom that have been guaranteed to the citizens under Articles 21 and 22 are not subjected to suspension even during the emergency, and false Imprisonment is unsuitable of the same. The fact that a person has been detained in judicial custody or has been sentenced to Imprisonment does not mean that he should be inflicted with mental or physical torture to bring justice to the crime he/she committed. Thus, while dealing with the cases of false Imprisonment, if the person illegally arrested is being inflicted with any torture, there is a grave misuse of power. In these instances, the right that has been invaded by the person arrested can’t be washed away; however, the only remedy that the Court can give is to order for monetary compensation.

However, to justify that the Imprisonment or the detention is illegal, then the person or any person on behalf of him can file a writ of habeas corpus, and upon enquiry based on the filing of the writ, Court can conclude that whether the writ imprisonment has been valid or not. 

Conclusion

Social justice and individual liberty have been imbibed in the very nature of the Indian Constitution. It has guaranteed fundamental rights to its citizens in pursuance of that which cannot be invaded. In case those rights are in any way compromised, there are remedies in forms of writs to enjoy the rights they are entitled to, and these writ remedies are enforceable by the Supreme Court and High Court of the respective states. As a part of those writ remedies, the Court award monetary compensation to the affected as discussed in the case above.

The Court awarded compensation to the victim for the mental agony and the invasion of his constitutional right invaded by the Police authorities by detaining him illegally. The awarding of writ remedies arises not only because the state has failed in carrying out its duties but also the social duty to compensate the victims who have been wronged.

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