The Delhi High Court recently absolved Station House Officer PS Mayur Vihar, Inspector Manoj Kumar Sharma of contempt charges, while directing the Delhi Police to refrain from filing status reports in a “casual” and “cavalier” manner.
A Bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal ordered, “…officials of the Delhi Police are required to be held to the high standards by which they profess their conduct to be judged. In view of the foregoing, it is incumbent upon this Court to direct the concerned SHO, as well as, other officials of the Delhi Police to exercise caution, care and diligence while responding to proceedings pending adjudication before the Court…
…The officers of the Delhi Police are directed to eschew from filing status reports in a casual and cavalier manner.”
The court was hearing a criminal contempt petition initiated on a reference received from a learned Single Judge of the court. The SHO had landed in trouble while the Single Judge was hearing a petition filed by a woman seeking directions to remove derogatory remarks made against her and her community by a post on Facebook.
On notice being issued on the woman’s petition, a status report was filed on August 27, by Mr. Sharma. As per the report, the request for removal of the post was made on August 16. It said that the post was then examined and a letter was sent to Facebook through Cyber Cell, East District, Delhi to remove the content.
In view of this status report, the court had directed the State to file a status report specifying whether the content had been successfully removed. The second affidavit, filed on September 14 under the signature of the same police officer, had assured the court that the content had been removed from Facebook.
However, the counsel for the petitioner had then pointed out that the police officer’s statement was incorrect as the post resurfaces if certain words were typed. The court had then directed the in-charge of the Cyber Cell to appear before it.
The in-charge had told the court that the first communication for removal of the post was received by him only on September 12, that too with the wrong URL number. The correct URL, he said, was received by him only on September 14.
Pointing out the discrepancy, the police officer was asked to explain his stand, to which he had claimed that the earlier affidavit contained an “inadvertent and bonafide language error”, and had also apologised for the same.
The Single Judge had nevertheless noted that the police officer had concealed information from it and had also submitted incorrect facts. It had then directed initiation of contempt proceedings against the officer.
The Division Bench, however, now opined that while the SHO’s report could be said to misdirect the proceedings, they did not constitute a deliberate and wilful attempt to mislead the court or interfere in the administration of justice. It further noted that he had apologised at the first opportunity and had “expressed appropriate remorse” for having misdirected the court.
The notice of criminal contempt issued against him was therefore discharged, with a direction for him to exercise due caution, henceforth.
Read the Judgment Here