15 Aug 2023 5:15 AM GMT
While rejecting a habeas corpus petition filed by a father praying to produce his major daughter who went missing in 2020, the Gujarat High Court emphasized that a habeas corpus inquiry is essential to determine whether an individual's liberty is being unlawfully restrained by any individual or entity, and the fundamental purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to safeguard personal freedom...
While rejecting a habeas corpus petition filed by a father praying to produce his major daughter who went missing in 2020, the Gujarat High Court emphasized that a habeas corpus inquiry is essential to determine whether an individual's liberty is being unlawfully restrained by any individual or entity, and the fundamental purpose of the writ of habeas corpus is to safeguard personal freedom and reinstate the rights of an individual held against their volition in someone else's custody.
The division bench of Justices Umesh A Trivedi and MK Thakker reiterated, “It is required to be kept in mind that inquiry in Habeas Corpus is required to be initiated to ascertain that whether a Corpus is illegally detained by any person or authority or not. The idea of writ of Habeas Corpus is to ensure freedom and to restore liberty of a person in somebody’s custody against his or her wish.”
The case centred around Rekhaben, an adult woman who disappeared in October 2020 after a quarrel with her husband, Dhaval Mukeshbhai Valmiki. The petitioner, Rekhaben's father, alleged that Rekhaben had been subjected to physical abuse by her husband and was unlawfully confined by multiple individuals
Upon receiving the petition, the court issued a "Notice" in December 2020, directing authorities to locate and produce Rekhaben. An extensive investigation was conducted, involving various police departments, collection of call records, and searches for missing persons. The breakthrough came when a deceased body was discovered, believed to be that of Rekhaben's, along with Dasharathbhai Isvarbhai Valmiki.
The court was presented with an affidavit detailing the investigation's steps, including the collection of evidence, witness statements, and identification of the bodies. Although the in-laws positively identified the deceased as Rekhaben and Dasharathbhai, the petitioner contested the findings and requested a DNA test.
A DNA test was performed, but the results were inconclusive due to degraded samples. The court acknowledged the investigation's thoroughness and held that there was no unlawful confinement. It emphasized that while the DNA report needed verification, it was not sufficient to prove unlawful confinement.
Based on the submissions and affidavit presented by the Investigating Officer, the Court noted that the Investigating Agency diligently pursued the case from the moment of the individual's disappearance up until the present time, and they even traced a dead body, which was identified as that of the Corpus and Respondent No. 5; however, the petitioner contested the validity of the claim that the discovered body was indeed that of the Corpus.
The Court's viewpoint was that the DNA Report needed verification to ensure its accuracy. However, the sample provided was too degraded for analysis, resulting in no conclusive opinion from the Forensic Expert/s.
Based on the presented facts, the Court was satisfied with the investigation and the Report and held that there was no illegal or unauthorized confinement of the adult Corpus.
“It is open for the petitioner to initiate appropriate proceedings, if he is aggrieved with the Report submitted by the Investigating Agency in accordance with law but writ of Habeas Corpus cannot be entertained,” the court said while rejecting the petition.
Case Title: Lilabhai Shankarbhai Sapariya (Valmiki) Versus State Of Gujarat
Case Citation: 2023 Livelaw (Guj) 135
Case No.: R/Special Criminal Application No. 7864 Of 2020
Appearance: Mr. Dipen F Chaudhari(6740) For The Applicant(S) No. 1 ; For The Respondent(S) No. 2,3,4 ; Hasmukh V Parmar(8378) For The Respondent(S) No. 6 ; Mr Rajesh M Chauhan(2470) For The Respondent(S) No. 6 ; Ms JK Hingorani(2491) For The Respondent(S) No. 7, 8
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