The Madras High Court has expressed concern over the growing "trend" of filing writ petitions in High Court against the public officials, more specifically, Police officials, whenever a criminal case is registered against some persons.
A bench of Justice SM Subramaniam observed that this trend should not be encouraged and whenever any litigant faces ill-treatment in a Police Station, a representation should first be made to the Higher Officials. The Higher Officials shall accept the representation if there are grounds and shall conduct an enquiry. The court observed as under:
"It is needless to state that even if there is any action by the Police and if the near relative of somebody receives some information against the Police Official, they are expected to take action in the manner known to law and not by picking up quarrel with the Police Official, more specifically, inside the Police Station. If such conducts are permitted to continue further, it will create all such sorts of unnecessary actions."
In the present case, the petitioner was an elected President of Pappanam Panchayat. On 02.03.2022 her husband was arrested and taken to custody after a complaint was registered against him following some election disputes that ensued between him and other rival political parties. The petitioner went to the police station where she claimed that she was ill-treated by the Inspector of Police (sixth respondent).
The petitioner stated that the respondent police used abusive language and scolded her by using her caste name. On 15.03.2022, she sent a representation to authorities including Additional Principal Secretary (Home Department), Director-General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, District Collector and Superintendent of Police (Respondents 1-5 respectively) for taking departmental action against the respondent officer. Since no action was taken, the writ was filed.
Additional Government Pleader informed the court that the petitioner had filed the writ on a false set of facts. The petitioner's husband was arrested following a complaint filed by one Dharmadurai. The police had also arrested certain persons on a complaint given by the petitioner's husband. Thus, two FIRs were registered, one against the petitioner's husband and the other against the opposite party based on the complaint given by the petitioner's husband. Both cases were under investigation. It was also submitted that the petitioner had picked up a quarrel with the respondent officer and later the petitioner sent a false representation after a lapse of thirteen days and then went on to file the present writ petition in order to threaten the public officials.
The court opined that the petitioner's delay in making the representation raised serious doubts in the minds of the court. It was also to be noted that the petitioner was an elected Panchayat President who cannot be construed as any ordinary person. Thus, when she received information, the expectation was to initiate appropriate action in the manner known to law. Contrarily, the petitioner picked up a quarrel with the officer. The court was thus satisfied that the present petition was filed merely to demoralize and threaten the Police officials.
The court thus directed the petitioner to pay Rs 25,000/- as cost to the respondent officer. The officer was then directed to utilize this amount for providing basic amenities in the Police Station which would be useful to the general public.
The court also noted that in certain circumstances, the police authorities did commit excessive use of power. However, this excessive use of power needed to be proved substantially, and only then directions could be issued to take departmental action against such Police Officials.
The court also noted that when such attempts are made to demoralize the Police Officials, they will not be in a position to perform their duties and effectively maintain law and order and deal with crimes in the Society. Thus, when these kinds of writ petitions are filed without any substance, they have to be rejected in limine.
Case Title: Amutha v. The Additional Principal Secretary and others
Case No: W.P (MD) No 5483 of 2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 224
Counsel for Petitioner: Mr R Venkateshwaran for Mr Arputharaj A
Counsel for Respondents: Mr N Satheesh Kumar (Additional Government Pleader (R1-R5))