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CHANDIGARH

Punjab and Haryana HC orders probe into ‘illegal detention’, torture of labour activist Shiv Kumar

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Observing that in a a democratic set up, “there cannot be even a thought for compromising the life and liberty of the citizen,” the Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday directed Faridabad District and Sessions Judge to hold an inquiry into allegations of illegal detention and custodial torture of labour activist Shiv Kumar by Sonipat police.

The bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan, however, did not stay the ongoing probe into the case being carried out by a Special Investigation Team (SIT). “The SIT may continue with the investigation but shall not submit its final report without seeking permission from this court,” Justice Jhingan ordered, while adjourned the case to May 11 for submission of status report.

The directions came on a plea filed by Shiv Kumar’s father Rajbir. In his plea, Rajbir has sought transfer of investigations in three different FIRs registered under various sections of the IPC against Shiv Kumar to an independent agency. The petitioner also pleaded for an independent inquiry into the alleged illegal detention and torture of Shiv Kumar by Haryana Police at Kundli police station.

Earlier, on court orders, Shiv Kumar was medically examined at Chandigarh-based Government Medical College and Hospital-32 last month. As per the medical report, taken on record during the hearing Tuesday, some injuries, including two fractures, on his hand and foot and also broken nail beds of some of his toes were found.

Senior Advocate RS Cheema and Advocate Arshdeep Singh Cheema, counsel for petitioner, submitted that the comparison of the initial MLR and the subsequent MLR (dated February 22) speaks for itself. The petitioner contented that an inquiry be ordered and in the meantime the investigation be stayed.

The Haryana government, through its counsel, submitted that the state was not in a position to raise any serious objections, if an inquiry is ordered to be conducted. He apprised the Court that the investigation of the FIRs has been handed over to the SIT.

Not commenting on comparison of two sets of medical reports, the bench held that “it would suffice for this court to say that a probe is required”.

“Part-III of Constitution of India deals with Fundamental Rights. Article 21 guarantees protection to life and personal liberty. Life and liberty of no person can be deprived except as per the procedure established by law. In a democratic set up, there cannot be even a thought for compromising the life and liberty of the citizen,” observed Justice Jhingan.

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The bench observed that at this stage, there was no reason to doubt the investigation being carried out by the SIT.

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Considering the facts and circumstances in entirety, the bench said, “Let the District and Sessions Judge, presently posted at Faridabad, hold an inquiry with regard to the allegations of illegal detention and custodial torture of Shiv Kumar”.

The court also directed all concerned parties to lend their full cooperation to the Faridabad Sessions Judge so that the inquiry report is submitted at the earliest.

Shiv Kumar, president of Majdoor Adhikar Sanghathan, was held a few days after labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested for allegedly gheraoing an industrial unit and demanding money from the company in Haryana’s Sonipat on January 12. Police had booked Shiv Kumar under various sections of the IPC in three different FIRs registered against him at police station Kundli at Sonipat.

The High Court on February 19 had directed Superintendent, Sonipat Jail to get the medical examination of Shiv Kumar conducted by GMCH after the activists’ father alleged that his son was brutally tortured by police.

According to 24-year-old Shiv Kumar, who provided information about his case to the five-member medical board of GMCH formed for his medical examination, he was picked up on January 16 from a protest site at Kundli and was taken to old Kacheri, Sonipat where the CI (police) staff assaulted him.

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