POLICE EXCESSES ON A HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER IN CHANDIGARH

Policing the police has always been a hot issue in the civil society. Indian State of Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh has remained the hotbed of police excesses in the past as well. With the latest incident of thrashing and criminal intimidation of

a human rights lawyer by a police officer of Chandigarh police yesterday, the issue has once again arouse resentment among the general public.

A human rights lawyer, Arunjeev Singh Walia, practising in Punjab & Haryana High Court was assaulted and intimidated during three hour wrongful confinement by Dilsher Singh Chandel, a Sub-Inspector of Chandigarh Police, on January 15, 2003. According to the victim-lawyer, he was going back to his house on his scooter at about 5.30 p.m. and as he was passing through the road dividing Sector 23-24, Chandigarh, he saw many policemen sorrounding a young girl with a black color Ford Icon car and the girl was crying for help. He stopped his scooter and went to help the girl. On being asked about the reason for her harassment, the girl, Radhika Bhalla of Sector 38, Chandigarh told the lawyer that the policemen had been chasing her car from a long distance and inspite of showing all the documents including her valid driving licence, the policemen were not letting her go and was using abusive language. When the lawyer gave his introduction to the policeman that he was a human rights lawyer and asked him the reason for harassing the girl without any lady constable present, the head of the police party, Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel, posted in Police Station, Sector 39, Chandigarh became furious. He asked the lawyer to mind his own business and leave the place. The lawyer insisted that the lone girl should be allowed to go after completing the necessary formalities, if any. The lawyer then gave a visiting card of his organisation, Lawyers For Human Rights International, to the girl and offered free legal aid to fight her case. He also advised the girl to write on the challan slip in her own hand that no lady police officer was present when she was booked by the policemen. On hearing this, Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel became angry and without any provocation started beating the lawyer and abused him in public. He then dragged him into the police vehicle and asked his subordinates to take him to police post Sector 24, Chandigarh and he himself drove the lawyer’s scooter to the police post. On reaching the police post, the above named police officer again thrashed the lawyer without any provocation. He threatened that he will book the lawyer in a false case to assault a policeman and obstructing him from discharging his duty. Immediately after receiving the information of abduction of Mr.Walia from some passer by, a team of lawyer-members of LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL led by Tejinder Singh Sudan, Chandigarh Unit President, reached the police post and on seeing them, the erring cop fled from the scene after making a false complaint against the lawyer that the lawyer has attacked him and tore off his uniform and obstructed in discharge of his duty. As the team of lawyers came to the police post, the Incharge of the police post, Assistant Sub-Inspector Neeraj Sarna, who was a witness to the unlawful act of the policeman made the lawyer put his turban on and made him sit in another room. Then the President of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Bar Association and other senior lawyers of the High Court including Amar Singh Chahal and Navkiran Singh, President and General Secretary, respectively, of Lawyers For Human Rights International came there and called senior police officers and the medical examination of Mr.Walia was got done from General Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh. After three hours of detention, the lawyer was finally let off after he submitted a written complaint against the erring policeman.

All the major newspapers of the region highlighted this incident the next day and the District Bar Association, Chandigarh passed a resolution to condemn the wrongful action of the policeman and decided to abstain from work for the day. A deputation comprising of the President and members of the District Bar Association,Chandigarh also submitted a memorandum to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh demanding the registration of a criminal case of assault, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement against the guilty cop and his immediate suspension. But inspite of assuring the delegation that strict action shall be taken agains the cop who was prima facie found guilty of assault on the lawyer, no action has been taken by the police administration, except transferring the cop to another police station in the city and ordering the initiation of departmental inquiry against him. As per the police sources, a daily diary report has been registered against the cop for assault and criminal intimidation upon the lawyer(Sections 323/506 Indian Penal Code).

This incident has once again established the fact that even today a policeman considers himself to be above the law and fears nobody. If an experienced lawyer having a good reputation for human rights activities like Mr.Arunjeev Singh Walia can be given such inhuman treatment by the policeman for helping a lady in distress, and the erring cop is not punished for his wrongdoing, no common man would ever think of helping others in such a situation. This will undoubtedly lead to anarchy and civil society will loose its basic principle, Rule of Law. Then there will be jungle raj and eye for an eye and blood for blood would be the order of the day.

TEJINDER SINGH SUDAN
Chandigarh Unit President,
Lawyers For Human Rights International
Chamber No.122, Distt.Courts, Sector 17,
Chandigarh.
Email:tssudan@email.com

BEFORE THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION AT NEW DELHI

Complaint No.________/2003

Lawyers For Human Rights International(Regd.) Chamber No.122, District Courts, Sector 17, Chandigarh. Through its President, Amar Singh Chahal

………..Complainant

Versus

1.Chandigarh Administration,through its Home Secretary,U.T.Secretariat,
Sector 9, Chandigarh.
2.Inspector General of Police, U.T. Chandigarh, Police Headquarters,U.T.
Sector 9, Chandigarh.
3.Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel,presently posted in Police Lines,
Sector 26, Chandigarh.

…………Respondents

COMPLAINT UNDER SECTION 12 OF THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT,1993

RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH;-

1. That the Complainant-Organisation is a registered non-governmental human rights organisation striving to promote and protect the human rights of the citizens. The present complaint relatest to an assault,illegal detention and criminal intimidation of a human rights lawyer, Arunjeev Singh Walia by Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel of Chandigarh Police and seeks strict action against the erring cop in accordance with law and for suitable compensation to the victim-lawyer for the loss suffered by him.

2. That Arunjeev Singh Walia, Advocate is a member of the Complainant-Organisation. He is a known human rights activist and the respondent no.3 personally recognises him because the lawyer had filed a case against the cop on behalf of his client sometime ago.

3. That on January 15, 2003,when Arunjeev Singh Walia was going back to his house at about 5.30 P.M., he saw a police party of Chandigarh Police sorrounding a lone girl on the road dividing Sector 23-24, Chandigarh. The girl was crying for help and in order to find out the reason for her detention, Arunjeev Singh Walia stopped there and enquired from the girl about the matter. She told the lawyer with tears in her eyes that the Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel was harassing her, hurling abuses and misbehaving with her for no reason. Around ten policemen were sorrounding the girl and the Sub-Inspector was abusing her. At this, the lawyer asked the policemen as to why they were harassing the girl and that too when no lady constable was present there. But Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel threatened him to mind his own business. The lawyer told the girl to have courage and also told her that he is a lawyer and a member of the Complainant organisation and she may contact their organisation if she needed free legal aid in the matter. He gave the visiting card of the Complainant-Organisation for giving the address of his organisation. He also advised the girl to mention on the challan slip which was being filled by the Sub-Inspector that no lady constable was present when she was being misbehaved by the cops. This made the above named policeman angry and he turned towards the lawyer and gave him good bashing in full public glare. But nobody dared to intervene because the policemen were in good numbers. The turban of the lawyer fell down and he received punches on his face and back.

4. That thereafter the said sub-inspector ordered his men to take him into custody and he himself dragged the lawyer into the police vehicle and asked his men to take him to the Police Post, Sector 24, Chandigarh. The Sub-Inspector himself drove the scooter of the lawyer to the police post. Incidently, a colleague lawyer who was passing through, saw the policemen beating Mr.Walia and he stopped there and informed other lawyers about the incident.

5. That the police vehicle took the lawyer to the police post, Sector 24, Chandigarh. No sooner did the lawyer stepped into the police post, Sector 24, Chandigarh, Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel again attacked the lawyer and thrashed him more seriously. Again his turban fell off and he received bodily injuries due to the beating. The policeman also threatened him to implicate him in a false case of attacking a public servant and obstructing him in the discharge of his duty. All this happened in the presence of Sub-Inspector Neeraj Sarna, Incharge, Police Post, Sector 24, Chandigarh. The Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel made a written complaint against the lawyer of asssaulting him and interferring in his duty, on which a daily diary report was entered in P.P.Sector 24, Chandigarh.

6. That after sometime, a battery of lawyers accompanied by the President and Secretary of Punjab & Haryana High Court Bar Association, Chandigarh also reached at Police Post, Sector 24, Chandigarh. On their intervention, senior police officers of Chandigarh Police were contacted and Superintendent of Police, Mr.Baldev Singh came there and ordered to register a daily diary report on the complaint of the lawyer. Consequently, a daily diary report was registered against S.I.Dilsher Singh Chandel and strict action was assured to the Complainant-Organisation by the police.

7. That next day i.e. January 16, 2003, the District Bar Association, Chandigarh, vide a resolution of the same date condemned the action of the erring cop and decided to abstain from work. Later a deputation comprising of the President and Secretary of the District Bar Association, Chandigarh met the Senior Superintendent of Police and submitted a memorandum to the police seeking the registration of an F.I.R. for assault, illegal detention and criminal intimidation upon the lawyer by Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel, the true copy of the resolution and memorandum are enclosed herewith for ready reference.

8. That on January 17, 2003, the Chandigarh Police transferred the erring sub-inspector from Police Station,Sector 39, Chandigarh to Police Station, Sector 26, Chandigarh, but no case has been registered against him for assault, illegal detention and criminal intimidation against the erring cop.

9. That neither the Complainant-Organigation of which the victim-lawyer is a member,nor the victim is satisfied with the mild action taken by the local police against the erring cop and the Complainant-Organisation prays before this Hon’ble Commission to call for a detailed report from the Inspector-General of Police, U.T. Chandigarh in the matter and recommend strict action against the erring cop and may award suitable compensation to the victim lawyer to be recovered from the salary of the delinquent policeman.

It is therefore,prayed that this Hon’ble Commission may intervene in the matter and hold a detailed inquiry, call for the report from the Inspector-General of Police,U.T. Chandigarh and recommend strict action against Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel. Suitable compensation may also be awarded to the victim lawyer for the injuries and loss suffered by him.

CHANDIGARH COMPLAINANT
DATED;18.1.2003
(AMAR SINGH CHAHAL)PRESIDENT

To January 20,2003

The Senior Superintendent of Police,
U.T.Chandigarh.

SUBJECT: ASSAULT ON A HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER BY Sub-Inspector DILSHER SINGH CHANDEL

Sir,

Most regretfully we wish to bring to your notice the latest incident of thrashing and criminal intimidation of a human rights lawyer by a police officer of Chandigarh police yesterday and demand strict action against the guilty cop in order to instil confidence in the minds of the public.

Arunjeev Singh Walia, a practising lawyer of Punjab & Haryana High Court and Press Secretary of our organisation, was assaulted and intimidated during three hour wrongful confinement by Dilsher Singh Chandel, a Sub-Inspector of Chandigarh Police, on January 15, 2003. He was going back to his house on his scooter at about 5.30 p.m. on 15.1.2003 and as he was passing through the road dividing Sector 23-24, Chandigarh, he saw many policemen sorrounding a young girl with a black color Ford Icon car and the girl was crying for help. He stopped his scooter and went to help the girl. On being asked about the reason for her harassment, the girl, Radhika Bhalla of Sector 38, Chandigarh told him that the policemen had been chasing her car from a long distance and inspite of showing all the documents including her valid driving licence, the policemen were not letting her go and was using abusive language. When our member gave his introduction to the policeman that he was a human rights lawyer and asked him the reason for harassing the girl without any lady constable present, the head of the police party, Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel, posted in Police Station, Sector 39, Chandigarh became furious. He asked our member to mind his own business and leave the place. The lawyer insisted that the lone girl should be allowed to go after completing the necessary formalities, if any. The lawyer then gave a visiting card of our organisation to the girl and offered free legal aid to fight her case. He also advised the girl to write on the challan slip in her own hand that no lady police officer was present when she was booked by the policemen. On hearing this, Sub-Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel became angry and without any provocation started beating the lawyer and abused him in public. He then dragged him into the police vehicle and asked his subordinates to take him to police post Sector 24, Chandigarh and he himself drove the lawyer’s scooter to the police post. On reaching the police post, the above named police officer again thrashed the lawyer without any provocation. He threatened that he will book the lawyer in a false case to assault a policeman and obstructing him from discharging his duty. Immediately after receiving the information of abduction of Mr.Walia from some passer by, a team of our members reached the police post and on seeing them, the erring cop fled from the scene after making a false complaint against the lawyer that the lawyer has attacked him and tore off his uniform and obstructed in discharge of his duty. As the team of lawyers came to the police post, the Incharge of the police post, Assistant Sub-Inspector Neeraj Sarna, who was a witness to the unlawful act of the policeman made the lawyer put his turban on and made him sit in another room. Then the President of the Punjab & Haryana High Court Bar Association and other senior lawyers of the High Court including Amar Singh Chahal and Navkiran Singh, President and General Secretary, respectively, of Lawyers For Human Rights International came there and called senior police officers and the medical examination of Mr.Walia was got done from General Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh. After three hours of detention, the lawyer was finally let off after he submitted a written complaint against the erring policeman.

This incident has once again established the fact that even today a policeman of Chandigarh Police considers himself to be above the law and fears nobody. If an experienced lawyer having a good reputation for human rights activities like Mr.Arunjeev Singh Walia can be given such inhuman treatment by the policeman for helping a lady in distress, and the erring cop is not appropriately punished for his wrongdoing, no common man would ever think of helping others in such a situation.

Our organisation humbly demands that a criminal case should be registered against the erring cop and strict action should be immediately taken in accordance with law.

Hoping to receive due consideration,

Yours Truly,

(Navkiran Singh)
General Secretary
Lawyers For Human Rights International

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