The Delhi High Court has sentenced a police officer to jail for a day for contempt of court after he arrested a person in breach of the directions of the Supreme Court.
Justice Najmi Waziri refused to accept the apology tendered by the Delhi Police officer in the contempt proceedings and stated that personal liberty can be curtailed only by a procedure established by law.
The High Court also fined the police officer ₹ 2,000 and imposed a nominal cost of ₹ 15,000 for these proceedings on him, to be paid to the petitioner who suffered incarceration for 11 days.
“Keeping in mind that R-3 is a serving police officer with the Delhi Police, that he has served for seven years and may have a long career ahead of him, he is sentenced to simple imprisonment for one day along with a fine of ₹ 2,000 as well as nominal costs of ₹ 15,000 for these proceedings, to be paid by him to the petitioner within four weeks,” the court said in its order passed in December.
Justice Waziri clarified that the order would be kept in abeyance for two months from its receipt in order to accord sufficient opportunity to the officer assail it if he so desired.
The High Court noted the petitioner was arrested on allegations of criminal breach of trust, entailing a maximum sentence of three years, without the mandatory issuance of a notice of appearance under section 41A of Criminal Procedure Code in terms of the Supreme Court’s directions in Arnesh Kumar case.
Justice Waziri said the “highhandedness of the police officer” in specific breach of the Supreme Court’s directions was “evident” and the arrest of the petitioner was not warranted in the manner in which it was done.
The police officer was deemed to have due knowledge of the rights of a citizen and the procedure prescribed in law, the court stated.
It observed that the petitioner and his family suffered humiliation and the indignity of being arrested and “no amount of explanation to the neighbours or those who may have seen the arrest would undo the embarrassment”.
It added that arrest destroys a person and any subsequent release or acquittal of an innocent is of no solace to the loss of reputation or for the temporary loss of precious personal liberty.