Read Order: Navdeep Singh v. Kuljinder Singh, DSP and Others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 14, 2022: While dealing with a contempt petition, the Punjab and Haryana High has directed the  Director-General Police, Punjab to ensure strict adherence to the Division Bench orders of the High Court requiring the issuance of instructions to all Investigating Officers not to state/mention the caste of accused, victims or witnesses in recovery memos, FIRs, seizure memos, inquest papers and other forms prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Punjab Police Rules.

The Bench of Justice B.S. Walia said in this respect, “Accordingly, in the light of position noted above, no action under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 is called for against the respondents and the contempt petition is disposed of as such while directing the concerned official respondents to ensure strict adherence to the orders as referred to above in all official proceedings. In the circumstances, the Director General, Police, Punjab is requested to take steps to ensure that the circulars as referred to above are adhered to by all concerned police officials.”

Prayer in the instant petition under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was for punishing the respondents for intentionally and willfully disobeying the directions of the High Court as contained in an order directing the issuance of instructions to all Investigating Officers not to state/mention the caste of accused, victims or witnesses in recovery memos, FIRs, seizure memos, inquest papers and other forms prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Punjab Police Rules.

By its order, the High Court directed the Home Secretaries of U.T. Chandigarh, State of Haryana and Punjab to file an affidavit on whether there was any provision except under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to disclose the caste of the complainant or accused and in case there was no such provision, then to issue necessary official memorandum or circular in the Police Department asking concerned police officials not to highlight the caste of a complainant or accused while lodging complaint/ FIR. 

The case was adjourned to July 13, 2018, on which date, the High Court was apprised that a similar point was in issue before the Division Bench. Thereafter, directions were issued to the Secretaries (Home) to the Governments of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh, to issue instructions to all Investigating Officers not to state/mention the caste of accused, victims or witnesses in recovery memos, FIRs, seizure memos, inquest papers and other forms prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Punjab Police Rules. 

The petitioner’s Counsel contended that the respondents violated the referred orders by mentioning the caste of the petitioner, co-accused and witnesses in General Diary Details. It was further contended that despite the petitioner having brought the orders of the High Court to the notice of the authorities concerned not to mention the caste of the accused, complainant as well as witnesses, no action was taken on the same. However, on the query, the counsel conceded that the orders of the High Court to the above effect were not brought to the notice of the respondents in writing. 

The DAG, Punjab, on the other hand, produced copies of two circulars, one of which stated that in view of the directions of the High Court, the caste of the accused, victim or witnesses is not to be mentioned in recovery memos, FIRs, seizure memos, inquest papers and other forms prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Punjab Police Rules and that the above directions be brought to the notice of the Investigating Officers. The other Circular was issued by the Director, Bureau of Investigation, Punjab, Chandigarh to similar effect in terms of the decision of the Division Bench. 

The DAG further contended that by the aforementioned circular, all the SHOs and Investigating Officers were directed to be sensitized to ensure meticulous compliance of the directions of the Division Bench as referred to above. The petitioner’s counsel also conceded that in view of the circulars as referred to above, the petitioner was not interested in pursuing the contempt petition.

Admittedly, the Court observed that directions were issued by the Division Bench in March 2019 ordering that the caste of the accused, victim or witnesses was not to be mentioned in recovery memos, FIRs, seizure memos, inquest papers and other forms prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Punjab Police Rules. Pursuant thereto, the Court noted that the circular dated May 2019 was issued by the Director-General of Police, Punjab, Chandigarh, that aforesaid directions were to be brought to the notice of all Investigating Officers. A similar circular was issued by the Director Bureau of Investigation, Punjab, Chandigarh in December 2021 directing sensitization of all concerned police officials to ensure meticulous compliance with the directions in 2019. 

Further, the Court noted that the Orders dated March 2019 could not be expected to be the notice of the concerned police officials on the same date itself. 

“Since circular was issued on 06.05.2019 after the passing of orders on 25.03.2019 and thereafter on 27.12.2021 as well as in view of the statement of learned counsel for the petitioner, I am of the considered view that no action under the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, is called for against the respondents as what is of paramount importance is sensitization of all concerned police officials in the States of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory, Chandigarh, to ensure adherence to the orders of Hon’ble the Division Bench in the two cases as referred to above”, opined the Bench. 

Accordingly, in the light of the position noted above, the Court held that no action under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 was called for against the respondents and the contempt petition was disposed of as such while directing the concerned official respondents to ensure strict adherence to the orders as referred to above in all official proceedings. 

In the circumstances, the Director-General, Police, Punjab was requested to take steps to ensure that the circulars as referred to above were adhered to by all concerned police officials. 

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