In News: Recently, the Karnataka High Court passed a verdict on handcuffing, which is significant.
- In Suprit Ishwar Divate vs. The State of Karnataka, while awarding two lakh rupees as compensation for handcuffing an accused, without recording the reasons in the police case diary, it gave liberty to the state to recover the amount from the delinquent police officer.
Principles of handcuffing
- The High Court held that an accused, in normal circumstances, need not be handcuffed on arrest.
- It is only under exceptional circumstances that handcuffing an accused can be resorted to.
- Further, when there is such handcuffing, the arresting officer must record the reasons, which then would have to stand judicial/court scrutiny.
- There can be three occasions when a person can be (legally) handcuffed, i.e.,
- an accused on his arrest and before he is produced before the magistrate;
- an under-trial prisoner during transit from jail to the court and back;
- and a convict being transported from jail to the court and back.
- The law with regard to handcuffing was settled in 1980 when the Supreme Court of India, in Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration, held that the only circumstance which validates incapacitation by irons is that otherwise there is no other reasonable way of preventing his escape.
- It said that where an arrestee or a convict can be prevented from escape by increasing security, such an increase is to be a norm rather than handcuffing.
- The Court mandated that in case of handcuffing, the reasons for this have to be recorded in writing and it is the duty of the court to make inquiries with the person arrested as to whether he had been handcuffed or not and then approve or reject the reasons.
- Thus, irrespective of whether the person to be handcuffed is an accused or an under-trial prisoner or a convict, the principles governing handcuffing remain the same.
- However, if such a person is under the judicial custody of the court, the court’s permission is required for handcuffing except under emergent circumstances.
Who should pay compensation?
- In State of Maharashtra vs Ravikant S. Patil (1991), Bombay High Court held the Inspector of Police responsible for violation of Article 21, ordering him to pay ₹10,000 as compensation.
- However, the Supreme Court held that the police officer was not personally liable as he had acted in his official capacity.
- The top court modified the order and directed the state to pay the compensation.
- Therefore, the judgment of the Karnataka High Court as far as payment of compensation by the police officer is concerned, does not appear to be in sync with the Supreme Court judgment.
- If any malice is found behind the use of handcuffs, it needs to be dealt with strongly by the department.
- There cannot be a justifiable excuse for not mentioning the reasons for handcuffing in the case diary.
- The Supreme Court, in the Ravikant S. Patil (supra) case, had rightly said that the authorities concerned may, if they think it necessary, hold an inquiry and then decide on action against the police inspector.
- Therefore, the right approach would be to initiate disciplinary action against the errant officer under service conduct rules, rather than to order the payment of compensation.
- It would also be appropriate for State governments to review the mobility of the police, the requirement of additional manpower and technical gadgets periodically.
Source: The Hindu