Read Order: Satyawan v. State of Haryana and others
Chandigarh, August 6, 2021: Hearing a petition claiming illegal detention of a young man by the Panchkula police, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Government of Haryana, to file an affidavit specifying when all entry and exit points of all police posts in the state will be covered by CCTV footage.
The High Court further said it does not expect a long time frame, keeping in view the fact that illegal detention of any citizen affects their basic fundamental rights.
The bench of Justice Amol Rattan Sidhu passed these directions on a habeas corpus petition by a mother seeking the Court’s intervention in finding her son, whom she claimed was illegally picked up by incharge of sector 16 police post in Panchkula on the night of July 8.
On the last date of hearing, the bench appointed a warrant officer to visit the police post in sector 16 as well as the police station in sector 14 under which the said police post is attached.
Taking on record the report of the warrant officer during resumed hearing of the case on August 2, it was revealed that the petitioner’s son had been arrested on 12.07.2021 and lodged in a police lockup (place not given) on the same day, with information of his arrest given to his mother on her mobile phone.
Further, the affidavit of the Panchkula police commissioner was taken on record in which he denied that the petitioner’s son was picked up on 08.07.2021. He told the HC that all legal procedures were adopted and that the petitioner’s son was named as an accused in a murder case, with a specific role attributed to him.
However, regarding the CCTV footage of Police Post Sector 16, Panchkula, it was stated by the Commissioner that no camera is installed there and therefore no footage was available, while the footage of Police Station Sector 14, Panchkula, has been preserved from 08.07.2021 till 12.07.2021.
The counsel for the petitioner, however, submitted that the petitioners’ son was actually picked up from his home at Indira Colony, Sector 16, Panchkula, on the night of 08.07.2021 at around 11:00 pm, and that CCTV cameras installed at Labour Chowk, Sector 16, Panchkula, as also on the traffic light point between the petitioners’ home and Sector 16, Panchkula, can be seen to determine when exactly he was picked up.
The bench, however, stated, “Having considered the matter, firstly of course this court is to express its surprise with regard to the Police Post Sector 16, Panchkula, not being equipped with CCTV cameras, despite an affidavit having been filed by the Addl. Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary (Home)/DGP, Haryana, in another petition about 2 to 3 years ago, to the effect that all police stations/CIA staff in the State of Haryana had been equipped with the CCTV cameras, at all entry and exit points”.
The bench added that “obviously this court not having issued a specific direction that even police posts be so equipped, was taken unnecessary advantage of by the officers of the State to not install such cameras at police posts, which are equally important as regards determining as to whether somebody had been illegally detained in a police post or not, with that issue ‘hitting’ at the very root of a persons’ right to liberty as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.
The Bench then directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Government of Haryana, to file an affidavit specifying by when all entry and exit points of all police posts in the State of Haryana will also be covered by CCTV footage.
The Bench further clarified that the HC “would not expect a long time frame, keeping in view the fact that, to repeat, illegal detention of any person hits at a citizens’ basic fundamental right”.
“As regards what has been contended by the learned counsel on the petitioner having evidence that he was illegally picked up (as alleged) and that he also has a mobile phone recording of the occurrence in question, showing that he was not a part of it and was in fact recording that from the top of his house, this court would refrain from saying anything with regard to that, as that possibly would be evidence that he might lead in his defence before the learned trial court/Juvenile Justice Board (if arraigned as an accused and charged with the commission of any offence,” the bench added.
The matter was deferred to September 1.