In what could perhaps force the police to guard against human rights violations, the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) on Wednesday directed four Madurai policemen to each pay Rs 10,000 as “compensation” to a detenue whom they had handcuffed in violation of Supreme Court guidelines. However, the judges steered clear of “penalising” the constables on humanitarian grounds.
A division bench comprising Justices N Paul Vasantha Kumar and P Devadass delivered the verdict on a petition filed by I Nirmala, wife of Muthupandi, a functionary of the pro-Eelam outfit Tamil Puligal Movement.
In April 2011, Muthupandi was arrested by the Koodakovil police in connection with a bus burning case. While escorting him from a magistrate court to the Madurai Central Prison four policemen - Selvam, Alagarpandi, Ramakrishnan and Gunasekaran - handcuffed him without obtaining the Magistrate’s permission which is mandatory as per the Supreme Court’s ruling in various cases.
Hence, Nirmala prayed the court to punish the policemen concerned.
When the petition came up for hearing on Wednesday, the former Madurai Superintendent of Police Asra Garg appeared before the judges as per an earlier direction. The judges directed Garg to produce the four police personnel concerned and passed over the case.
When the hearing resumed in the afternoon, the police constables appeared in the court and admitted that they had handcuffed Muthupandi.
Citing various SC rulings, including in the Citizens for Democracy Vs State of Assam case, the judges held that the policemen had violated the guidelines laid down by SC. However, the bench did not want to punish the policemen since it would spoil their service.