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Case Analysis of Bhim Singh v/s State of Jammu And Kashmir

Facts:
  1. Bhim Singh, a member belonging to the legislative assembly of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, was apprehended on the 9th of September, 1985.
  2. He was detained under the grounds of conveying a speech that was deemed to be contentious and seditious at a public gathering near Parade Ground, J&K, on the 8th of September, 1985
    1. An FIR was lodged against Bhim Singh under section 153 A of the Ranbir Penal Code.
    2. Following his arrest, Bhim Singh was unable to partake in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly session, which was organized on the 11th of September, 1985.
    3. Bhim Singh was detained in the police custody till the 13th of September 1985 until he was produced before the Magistrate when the rules stated otherwise; the accused should be produced before the Court within 24 hours of the arrest.
  3. He was forcefully and purposefully held back in the police custody, and due to this, he was helpless to cast his vote on a crucial issue which ultimately did go in favour of the party that he had initially decided to cast his vote for, but that didn't make up for the fact that his right to vote was blatantly contravened.
     
    1. Bhim Singh had been suspended from the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on the 17th of August, 1985, which was the commencement of the Budget Day in the assembly.
    2. The notice of his suspension was brought in front of the Court by him, but the Court stayed the order of his suspension till the 20th of September.
  4. After a thorough probe undertaken by the Supreme Court pertaining to the Writ of Habeus Corpus filed by Bhim Singh's wife, and ordered the Inspector General of Police to release Bhim Singh on bail.
  5. On the 16th of September, he was out on bail.
    1. The inquiry further brought into light that Bhim Singh was illegally detained in the police custody the police facilitated by the complicity of the Magistrate who authorized detainment without even the apprehended person brought before him.
    2. The Supreme Court concluded that the Magistrate had acted recklessly and was downright injudicious while handling the case of Bhim Singh. The Magistrate's impetuous handling of the case resulted in the constitutional rights of Bhim Singh, encoded in Article 21 and Article 2(2), being glaringly violated.

Issue:
  1. If the detainment and apprehension would be held against the law and be classified as false Imprisonment?
  2. If the police custodial confinement will be construed as a flagrant breach of the victim's fundamental rights?
  3. Would the petitioner be held accountable for damages ?

Rule:
The rules applied in the case are the specific set of constitutional and fundamental rights, respectively which were conspicuously infringed. In the following case, Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu & Kashmir, the plaintiff was wrongfully held in the police custody and illegally detained, which consequentially resulted in the plaintiff being unable to cast his vote due to wrongful confinement, thereby resulting in the flagrant breach of his constitutional rights and also his fundamental rights under Article 21 and Article 22(2) which deal with:
  • Article 21: Every citizen has a right to personal life and liberty
  • Article 22(2): Every person detained in police custody should be produced before the district magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest

Not only were the Constitutional rights of the petitioner were grossly transgressed but also the blatant recklessness and negligence of the Magistrate while handling the case of Bhim Singh, which consecutively caused Bhim Singh to be failed to be brought before the Court within the prerequisite time period, i.e., 24 hours thus resulting in violation of Sections 56 and 76 respectively of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Article 56: States that the person apprehended should be produced before the Magistrate or the person in charge of the police station.

Section 76: States that the person arrested by the police should be brought before the Magistrate within the prerequisite window of time without any delay; the officer should be causing any delay as he is required by law to produce the accused before the Magistrate within the prerequisite time period, i,e; 24 hours.

His legal right to vote was also infringed, it resulted in him suffering Injuria Sine Damnum, which states that the right of a person can be violated without suffering damages, and there is no need to prove the damages, only the fact that his legal rights have been breached has to be proved.

Analysis
"If the personal liberty of a member of the legislative assembly is to be played in this fashion, one can only worry what may happen to lesser mortals," the Court said, referring to the police officers' actions. Furthermore, "police officers who are the custodians of law and order should have the greatest respect for citizens' personal liberty and should not float the laws by stopping in such weird acts of lawlessness," [1]according to the statement. Law enforcement officers should not become violators of civil liberties. The tort of False Imprisonment is a prevalent offence that causes grave infractions of the right to life and liberty.

False Imprisonment occurs when a person intentionally limits and prohibits another person's mobility within the respective region without seeking the person's consent, lawful justification, and authority. For a misdemeanour to constitute false imprisonment, certain essential elements need to be factored in:
  1. The rights and the liberties of the person falsely imprisoned are divested
  2. The nature of the prescribed act should be unlawful.
  3. The act should be carried out with malicious intentions.
  4. The knowledge of restraint is vital to establish the act of False Imprisonment

In the aforementioned case, all these ingredients mentioned earlier of false Imprisonment are fulfilled, thus exposing how the police officers illegally detained Bhim Singh and deprived him of his fundamental and constitutional rights.

The petitioner Bhim Singh was not produced before the Magistrate within the required time frame of 24 hours by the police officer; instead, Bhim Singh was illegally held in detention in the police custody, thereby the police trespassing the required time within which Bhim Singh was supposed to be produced before the Magistrate and as a result breaching Section 56 and Section 76 of the Criminal Procedure Code which requires the accused arrested to be brought before the Magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest[2].

The right to live and liberty applies to every citizen of India, and it applies to inmates, too; inmates have a right to live with dignity and liberty. Despite the circumstances that the accused was in, which compelled him to stay in police custody, he did not grant the right to the police officials to unlawfully detain him and keep him confined to the prison cell for the required time.

The person who is about to be falsely imprisoned may use reasonable force to prevent the wrongful arrest. He intends to use force as a form of self-defence, but he must attest that the force employed is reasonable in light of the circumstances. The regulations on the rights are noted in the well-known case of D.K.Basu v.State of West Bengal.[3]

Even inmates in jail have human rights since prison torture is not the only way to obtain justice; acknowledging a miscarriage to do justice to a living being is as vital. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution emphasizes the importance of human rights.

Article 20 with its sub-clauses reinforces this by aiming to protect and preserve the rights of convicts from being held down owing to ex post facto legislation, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination in Articles 20(a), (b), and (c), respectively. Without obtaining a legal warrant, jail authorities hold no right to torture the prison inmates. Imprisonment is a critical and crucial component that must be considered when calculating and awarding damages.[4]

Furthermore, physical and emotional injuries must be considered when awarding damages for false Imprisonment. If no harm has been inflicted upon the inmate, if he has been just falsely detained, then the possibility for the plaintiff to secure compensatory damages increases. If a person has been falsely imprisoned, then he or a person on his behalf can file a writ of Habeus Corpus to procure justice.

Following the Supreme Court's decision on the Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar[5] and Sebastian Hongray v Union of India[6] cases, respectively, the judges were of the opinion that when an accused is detained against his will, held in custody for more than the required time due to malicious and ill intentions of the police officials thereby violating his constitutional and legal rights and therefore just merely releasing the accused will not justifiably wither away the malicious intentions and ease the fact that his constitutional and fundamental rights were violated. Thus the plaintiff was awarded compensatory damages by the Supreme Court.

Conclusion
The Indian Constitution has been penned down and designed in such a manner in order to infuse the concept of social fairness and liberty granted to the citizens. The Constitution grants rights to the individual. If those fundamental rights are breached, the Constitution has provided with writ remedies which are implemented by the High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. The Court will also award compensatory damages to the plaintiff, which are a part of the remedies granted.

Government officials frequently violate these rights, while private parties may also be participating in the abuse of a higher authority. If someone is about to be falsely detained, he or she has the right to use necessary force to prevent the false arrest.

The number of complaints about police officers assaulting suspects and abusing their authority is on the rise[7] [Geroge Floyd v. United States, 260 F.2d 910]. Those that are abused in prison are usually from the lower sections of our society. The wealthiest portion of society benefits from legal protection, whereas the poor and disadvantaged, who lack political clout or financial clout, have essentially no human rights.

While considering state officials committing torts against citizens, the system no longer has sovereign immunity, according to the findings. There was also a discussion of establishing a constitutional structure based on checks and balances to avert such disasters.

Nevertheless, it is fair to presume that all provinces will prosper if a proper process is put in place to verify the state's wrongdoings and pay the victims to avoid such a disaster.
The case has reintroduced a fresh perspective on state culpability.

When a public servant infringes on an individual's right to life and liberty, the state is held legally liable. It would also be excellent if our legislature enacted new laws and regulations on the subject, holding the government legally accountable for any tort performed by its employees while doing a sanctioned or non-sanctioned activity.

End-Notes:
  1. Shri Bhim Singh, MLA v. State of Jammu & Kashmir Ors. AIR (1986) SC 494
  2. Vol 11, Srivastava, B. P. "Right Against Arbitrary Arrest and Detention Under Article 9 of the Covenant as Recognized and Protected under the Indian Law." Journal of the Indian Law Institute,29-56 (1969)
  3. D.K. Basu v. West Bengal State (1997) 1 SCC 416
  4. Vol 22, DC Pandey, Search for an Action Against Illegal Arrest, Journal of Indian Law Institute,336, 337-339, (1980)
  5. Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar, (1983) 4 SCC 141
  6. Sebastian M. Hongray v. Union of India, (1984) 3 SCC 82
  7. Floyd v. United States, 260 F.2d 910 (5th Cir. 1958)

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