Secretary, Hailakandi Bar Association Vs. State of Assam & Anr  INSC
711 (9 May 1996)
S.C. (J) Sen, S.C. (J) Ahmadi A.M. (Cj) Sen, J.
1996 AIR 1925 JT 1996 (5) 88 1996 SCALE (4)290
case arises out of a notice issued to A K. Sinha Cassyap, Superintendent of
Police, Hailakandi to show cause why he should not be held guilty of Contempt
of Court. The allegation against the contemner is that a shocking case of
police brutality leading to the death of an undertrial prisoner was sought to
be covered up by him by an untrue and misleading report sent to this Court
followed by a false affidavit.
Secretary, Hailakandi Bar Association, forwarded to this Court a copy of the
resolution passed by the Association at an emergent meetings held on 16th March, 1993 condemning the brutal assault
leading to the death of an undertrial prisoner Nurul Haque.
regard to the serious nature of the complaint, this Court by an order dated 20th August, 1993 decided to treat the copy of the
resolution forwarded by the Secretary, Hailakandi Bar Association as Writ
Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The Director General of
Police, State of Assam, was directed to inquire into the matter and send a
detailed report in regard to the events leading to the death of Nurul Haque.
Pursuant to the said order, the Director General of Police forwarded his report
under letter No.C-150/91/107 dated 13th September, 1993. In the letter it was stated that
the Director General of police got the matter investigated by the
Superintendent of Police, Hailakandi, who prepared a report which was forwarded
to this Court along with a medical certificate dated 10th March, 1993 and particulars of medical
examination of Nurul Haque done on 11th March, 1993. In the report prepared by the
Superintendent of Police, it was specifically stated, "Nurul Haque neither
died in police lock-up nor in police custody. He died while in judicial custody
as UTP (undertrial prisoner). He was not tortured during the period of police
custody." To say the least, the report was not satisfactory. The
inconsistency in the statement of facts made in the report was pointed out in
the Order of this Court dated 24th January, 1994. It was noted in the Order that the report of the Superintendent of
Police that "the P.M. Report did not indicate any external injury over the
dead body" was factually incorrect and misleading. The Superintendent of
Police, A.K. Sinha Cassyap, was asked to explain the same by affidavit and he
stated the word 'not' had inadvertently appeared for which he tendered apology.
This explanation was also found to be unsatisfactory. It was pointed out that
deletion of not' will leave the sentence grammatically incorrect. The senior
police officers were reminded to show extra care while forwarding their
comments to this Court and not to mechanically forward the information
collected by their subordinates. The Court had called for the report of the
Director General of Police because the Court reposed confidence in the
objectivity of a person holding such a high office. It was further noted in the
Order that another disturbing feature of the case was that the police had
registered the offence under Section 302 I.P.C. against unknown members of the
public. The story given out by the police that the members of the public had
beaten Nurul Haque before he was apprehended by the police was not borne out by
the reaction of the public and also the Bar Association which had taken up the
cause of Nurul Haque. Neither the report of medical examination done on 12th March, 1993 nor the laboratory report on the
viscera had been forwarded.
regard to the facts and especially to the fact that the deceased had suffered a
fracture, the possibility of the injuries having been caused by the police
could not be ruled out altogether. It was ordered:- "Since the local
police at the highest level have taken a stand that the assault on the deceased
was by members of the public and not the police after the apprehension of the
deceased, it is futile to expect an independent and wholly objective
investigation by the State Police. Even otherwise, the people will have little
confidence in the investigation no matter how honest and objective the
investigation be. In the circumstances, we deem it most appropriate that the
investigation of the crime in regard to the murder of the deceased under CR
Case No.275/93 and/or F.I.R.No.120/93 should be undertaken by the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In doing so, the CBI will bear in mind the allegation
of the wife and other relations of the deceased that he died on account of the
beating given to him after his apprehension on 9.3.1993, without being
influenced by the fact that in the F.I.R. No.120/93, it is alleged that the
assault was by the members of the public.
Registrar General will write a letter to the Director of CBI to take immediate
steps to take over the investigation of the crime from the local police and try
to complete the same at an early date and bring the real culprits to book. This
petition will stand so disposed of." After the Writ Petition was disposed
of on 24th January,
1994. a report was
received from Superintendent of police, CBI, SPE Division, Silchar. Along with
the report he sent a forwarding letter dated 5th June, 1995 in which he stated
that the disdainful role played by Shri A.K. Sinha Cassyap, the then
Superintendent of Police, Hailakandi District, was against all tenets of law
and morality. He submitted a false/fabricated affidavit/report to the Hon'ble
Supreme Court. The falsity of his report submitted to the Hon'ble Supreme Court
is evident in every sentence, if not every word of the report of said Shri A.K.
Sinha Cassyap, S.P. On consideration of the letter and the report submitted by
the Superintendent of Police, CBI, a Show Cause Notice was served upon A.K. Sinha
Cassyap for showing cause why he should not be punished for the criminal
contempt of this Court for filing a false and fabricated report/affidavit in
the allegation against Shri A.K. Sinha Cassyap is that he had given an untrue
report and filed a false affidavit about the death of Nurul Haque to mislead
the Court, it is necessary to set out the facts found by the Superintendent of
Police, Central Bureau of Investigation, in detail.
On 9th March, 1993 being Tuesday was a market day. It
was the month of Ramzan. Nurul Haque, resident of Boalipar under P.S. Hailakandi,
was coming back from the market towards his house at about 7.00/7.30 P.M. He
was 35 years of age and in good health. A Police party, led by Abdul Hye Choudhury,
S.I., arrested Nurul Haque. His house was about 400 yards from the market. As
per the version of eye witnesses, Nurul Haque was overpowered by S.I. Abdul Hye
Choudhury and party, who were all in plain clothes, and took him into a Police
Jeep to Hailakandi Police Station.
the Police later claimed that Nurul Haque was assaulted by members of the
public at the time of the arrest, neither the villagers nor relatives nor
market people, who were eye witnesses to the incident, noticed any such
assault, nor was there any record of Nurul Haque being treated for injury on 9th March, 1993.
On 10th March, 1993, in the early morning, Azizur Rahman,
brother of Nurul Haque, his wife and mother went to meet Nurul Haque at Hailakandi
Police Station, but were not allowed to meet him. On 11th March, 1993, Azizur Rahman
and some other relatives of Nurul Haque went to the Court of the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Hailakandi, where they met Nurul Haque, who told them that he had
been brutally beaten up by S.I. Abdul Hye Choudhury, Roy Daroga (Rajan Roy
S.I.) and Home Guard Dalim in the lock-up. On 11th March, 1993, Nurul Haque was produced before the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Hailakandi, with a prayer for 72 hours police remand It was also
prayed that since Nurul Haque was assaulted by members of the public, medical
treatment may be provided to Nurul Haque. The prayer was granted.
before this, on 10th
March, 1993 Nurul Haque
had been taken to Hailakandi Civil Hospital at about 5.30 P M. for treatment.
He was brought back to the Police Station after receiving treatment. Dr. M.L. Bhattacherjee,
the Medical Officer on duty, examined the patient and recorded his findings in
the Emergency Register as follows:-
Abrasion in cheek 1 cm x 1 cm. This may be caused either by hitting of a blunt
object or by falling.
One abrasion in left leg 2'5 cm x 1 cm. This might be due to fall or some blunt
Abrasion on fore-head, 2 cm x 2 cm. It may be due to the same reason as mentioned
Deep tenderness on right leg.
patient was complaining that he was having a severe pain on right leg. As far
as he remembers this was just below the medial side. But there was no external
injury at the spot." The patient complained that he had been beaten up by
the police. The police said that he was a dacoit and was brought for medical
treatment after arrest. The Doctor advised X-Ray, A.P. and lateral view of
right Tibia and the Fibula. The Doctor noticed that all the injuries were fresh
and had been received within 24 hours. The patient was healthy and could walk
freely with a slight limp for pain on the right leg. The patient was treated at
Emergency Ward for about 15 minutes and then discharged. As the X-Ray machine
of the Civil Hospital was not in order, the Doctor advised the police party to
get a X-Ray done outside. There is nothing on record to show that Nurul Haque was
given any treatment thereafter nor any X-Ray was done as advised by the Doctor.
But, he was interrogated thoroughly.
On 11th March, 1993 at 1.15 P.M. Nurul Haque was taken
from Hailakandi Police Station to Civil Hospital for treatment. The Doctor on duty,
Dr. H.A. Ahmed, recorded the following injuries suffered by the patient:
One lascerated injury present over the left thumb of size 2'5cm x l'5cm x skin
One abrasion over the left forearm at middle third of size 1 cm x 2 cm.
One abrasion present over the left arm of size 2'5cm x 2cm.
One abrasion present over the left leg. Over the tibin of size 2 cm x 2 cm.
One lascerated wound present over the right leg at upper third over tibia of
size l'5cm x l'5cm x bone deep and causing severe tenderness."
2.15 P.M. Nurul Haque was brought back from the hospital and kept in the
lock-up of the Police Station. He was produced before the Chief Judicial
Magistrate, Hailakandi, on 12th March, 1993,
with a prayer for holding Test Identification Parade. The prayer was allowed.
In the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Hailakandi, it was recorded that
Nurul Haque had been given medical treatment and that the jail doctor should
provide treatment to Nurul Haque. The jail doctor checked Nurul Haque and found
that he was suffering from multiple injuries and due to lack of facilities he
referred the patient to Civil Hospital, Hailakandi. At 6.45 P.M. Nurul Haque was once again
brought to Hailakandi Civil Hospital. He was taken to the Casualty Ward.
In the Casualty Ward Register it was recorded that he was suffering from
multiple injury. Dr. Tapan Kumar Bhattacharjee was the doctor on duty. However,
later on an extra word 'old' was inserted in between 'multiple' and 'injury' to
give a wrong impression about the period when the injuries were suffered. He
was admitted at 7.20
P.M. in the Indoor
Ward. In the treatment report, the time of the injury was apparently corrected
from 12 hours to 40 hours.
recorded that the patient was healthy and fully conscious and the following
injuries were found:-
One lascerated injury in left thumb.
One abrasion over left forum at middle third.
One abrasion over left arm.
One abrasion over left leg over Tibin.
One lascerated injury present in the right leg upper third to Tibia.
the all injuries were found infected and there was no record/report available
for having conducted X-ray examination." The patient received some
treatment but he collapsed on 13th March, 1993 at 5.25 A.M. Dr. Gautam Pal, who
was on duty, noted that the patient was deeply unconscious, pulse rate rapid
and thready, blood pressure could not be felt.
patient was injected Decadrum, a life saving drug. He was put on oxygen and
cardiac massage was also given. At 5.30 A.M. Nurul Haque died.
Superintendent of Hailakandi Civil Hospital informed the Superintendent,
District Jail, Hailakandi, that the undertrial prisioner Nurul Haque admitted
on the previous day with the multiple injuries had expired at 5.30 A.M. on 13th March, 1993
due to Cardio Respiratory failure as per hospital record. The death was also
recorded in the Undertrial Prisioners Register of Hailakandi District Jail.
was sent for burial. There was no record of intimating family members.
police registered a case under Section 302 IPC in respect of the death of Nurul
Haque against the members of the public on the basis of complaint filed by S.I.
A.H. Choudhury. The case was to be investigated by Dinanda Phukan. O.C. The
inquest was conducted by N.
S.I., Hailakandi Police Station on 13th March, 1993 in the Civil Hospital. There were
eight injuries in the lower portion of the right hand, in the right hand joint
etc. There was swelling and lasceration in the right hand and also the right
side of the waist. There was swelling on the right and left knees.
On 14th March, 1993 the deadbody was sent to Hailakandi Civil Hospital for post mortem examination which
was done by Dr. S.R. Roy who was only an L.M.F. doctor and not qualified for
the job. According to his finding the injuries were ante mortem in nature and
the death was due to Mayocardial Infraction with heart failure.
was collected and sent to family members of Nurul Haque. It was refused by the
family members. The Superintendent of District Jail, Hailakandi, wrote to the
C.J.M., Hailakandi, that as the relatives of the deceased were unwilling to
take the deadbody for burial, he may be allowed to dispose of the deadbody as
per Jail Manual Rule and Muslim Religious Rite. The prayer was allowed by the
On 15th March, 1993, the Superintended of District
Jail, Hailakandi, requested the C.J.M. that no relative of the deceased had
come to take the deadbody from the Civil Hospital for burial. The deadbody was
getting decomposed gradually and bad smell coming out from it. A prayer was
made for disposal of the body as per Muslim Religious Rites.
prayer was allowed. The wife of the deceased, Fatema Begum, filed an
application for recalling the order and to pass order for the post mortem
examination of the deadbody by a medical team in Silchar Medical College. The C.J.M. called for a report from the Jail
Superintendent about the. disposal of the deadbody immediately. The
Superintendent reported that the deadbody was sent to Government land near
Basic Training Centre, but the public of that area strongly objected to the
burial of the deadbody. The deadbody was lying in front of Police Station Hailekandi
at the time when the matter was reported.
C.J.M. thereupon passed an order on the application of the widow of Nurul Haque
and noted the fact that a number of lawyers appeared in his court and prayed
for further post mortem examination at Silchar Medical College. The C.J.M. thereupon directed the deadbody to be sent to Silchar
for further medical examination. The wife of the deceased was directed to
accompany the deadbody and take delivery of the deadbody after post mortem was
over. On 16th March, 1993, the deadbody was brought to Silchar Medical College
and the post mortem was conducted by Dr. B.K. Barah carried out the post mortem
examination and sent the viscera for further examination. In the report of the
Superintendent of Police, CBI, it has been stated:- " ....an accused who
was arrested in healthy condition was a dead person at the hands of police and
the attending doctors. They neither gave him food nor proper medical treatment
throughout this period.
C.D. of the I. O. nowhere it is mentioned that he was provided with even a
glass of water, less to say of food. Despite repeated suggestion of the doctor
to get him X-rayed, no X-ray was got done though his right leg was fractured.
inevitable result was the death of deceased Nurul Haque at the hand of the
Police to which all others including doctors and the Magistracy lent support.
The cause of death was ostensibly shown as Cardiac Respiratory Failure which
was not a correct fact The deceased had no history of Cardiac problem, nor any
ECG of him was got done during his police custody nor he had ever complained
about this problem to the police However, anything could have happened to a
person subjected to physical torture, shock and lack of sleep, lack of food and
having been kept in the lock-up for last 72 hours." Commenting on the
report submitted by the Superintendent of Police, Hailakandi, to this Court, it
has been stated:- "The report submitted by the S.P., Hailakandi, is full
of inaccuracies, lack of evidence and false instances some of which are as
follows:- 1) Para 1, page-l of the report says that Bheru Mia, Akkadas Ali and
others have confessed that under the leadersbip of Nurul Haque they committed
5/6 dacoities cannot be proved and name of Nurul Haque does not appear in any
of the charge sheet or FIR of the cases The above mentioned persons were
examined by the I.O. and by the Hon'ble Court and they have not stated the
allegation of the S.P. that Nurul Haque committed many dacoity and rape in the
locality and he was beaten by the members of the public do not have any
evidence to support it. That he was arrested on 10.3.93 is also wrong and
clearly shows wrongful confinement, The C.J.M., Hailakandi, allowed police
custody for 72 hours and not 24 hours. The statement of the SP that Nurul Haque
was again forwarded to the Court on 12.3.93 after completing his interrogation
is slightly mistaken because Nurul Haque was reproduced before the Court only
to conduct TIP for which the C.J.M. Hailakandi fixed the date on 15.3.93. The
report of the SP that the UTP was referred to Hailakandi Civil Hospital on
making complaint of chest pain is also false 3) The statement of the S.P. that
the P.M. report revealed that death was due to Myocardial Infection with Heart
Failure and that the P.M. report did not indicate any external injury over the
dead body is also false as mentioned earlier.
That the re-post mortem examination is conducted by a team of doctor and that
no opinion could be given because of highly decomposed state is also wrong/inaccurate.
In fact the re- post mortem examination was conducted by Police Surgeon and Mediocolegal
Expert Professor B.K. Borah of S.M.C.
5) On para
1 page 3 the S.P. has written that the viscera was preserved and sent to F.S.L.
for chemical examination is not correct because it was never sent to S.F.S.L.
It was kept at P.S. Hailakandi only. Recently, it has been traced at Police
Station, Hailakandi, itself and seized by CBI and now it has been sent to
C.F.S.L. for opinion." In reply to the notice why action should not be
taken for contempt of court against him, A.K. Sinha Cassyap has stated that he
never intended to disobey or defy an order of the Court or to mislead the
Court. He has tendered his unconditional and unqualified apology for this. It
has been stated that he was in a shocked state of mind because of certain
developments, particulars of which have been stated in the affidavit. He has
referred to a final report of the CBI dated 24/25.8.1995 in which prosecution
has been recommended against certain police officers, but so far as A.K. Sinha Cassyap
is concerned, only recommendation is conveying of displeasure by Government. It
has been stated by A.K. Sinha Cassyap that he was on leave at the time when
this incident took place. When he joined service, he got only 48 hours time to
make his report. He has made his report on the basis of the material available.
A.K. Sinha Cassyap has not only sent a report but has also filed an affidavit
pursuant to the order of this Court when the report was found unsatisfactory.
He had ample time to bring the facts to the notice of the Court by that
is no explanation for the reason why he did not bring the true facts to the
notice of the Court which was his duty to do, It is true that the CBI Report
has not recommended any criminal proceeding against him. But the allegation
against A.K. Sinha Cassyap is that he suppressed true facts from the Court and
gave a false report to mislead the Court as to what was the real cause of the
death of Nurul Haque. It has been stated by A.K. Sinha Cassyap that he had no
personal knowledge of the sequence of events from apprehension to the death of Nurul
Haque. He had returned from leave and had resumed duty only in the afternoon on
16th March, 1993 when Nurul Haque had already died. This explanation on the
face of it is not acceptable. As a responsible police officer it was his duty
to make proper investigation and give a report to this Court. Assuming within
the time frame of 48 hours he could not prepare a report properly, he should
have stated that in his report. He could have even prayed for longer time for
furnishing a report. But the allegation against him is that he deliberately
gave a false report. In the affidavit filed by him he had ample opportunity to
make good the lapses made in the report and bring the true facts to the notice
of the Court which he did not do. The affidavit filed by A.K. Sinha Cassyap in
this Court is dated 26th November, 1993 pursuant to the direction given by this
Court on 29th October, 1993. As a responsible police officer it was his duty to
bring to the notice of the Court the police brutality that had taken place and
the false documentation that was prepared by the various police personnel to
suppress the truth and to give a misleading picture. The glaring
inconsistencies in the affidavit filed by him have been pointed out in the
report of the CBI, particulars of which have been set out hereinabove. A.K. Sinha
Cassyap has not dealt with those particulars. He has only stated that that was
not the final report of the CBI. The final report does not contain anything to
the contrary to what has been stated in the report submitted to this Court. In
our view, A.K. Sinha Cassyap, the contemner, has committed gross contempt of
court by trying to mislead the Court as to the cause of death of Nurul Haque.
He has also tried to cover up the excesses committed by the police which
brought about the death of Nurul Haque by narrating untrue facts and giving
therefore, hold that A.K. Sinha Cassyap is guilty of contempt of this Court.
The belated apology given by A.K. Sinha Cassyap cannot be accepted because it
has not been given in good faith. He has tendered this apology only after his
report was found out to be misleading and his affidavit was found to be false.
He had unnecessarily highlighted in his report that Nurul Haque was a dacoit
for which there was no clear evidence. He had stated in his report
categorically after reciting some misleading fact, "From the above facts
and circumstances, it is clear that, Dacoit, Nurul Haque neither died in Police
Lock-up nor in Police custody. He died while in Judicial custody as UTP. He was
not tortured during the period of Police custody." A.K. Sinha Cassyap has
stated that he had to make his report on the basis of the records of the case
as he had no personal knowledge of this case. But the records reveal that the
particulars of injuries noted by Dr. H.A. Ahmed on 10th March, 1993 at 1.50
P.M. were more than
what were noticed by Dr. M L Bhattacharya on 10th March, 1993 at 5.30
P.M. This can only
mean that more injuries had been inflicted upon Narul Haque after he was
examined by Dr. M L Bhattacharya.
appears that the contemner has ignored even tell-tale evidence available on the
of the view that this was a highly irresponsible report regardless of the truth
and also against the records of the case. In spite of the nature of the injuries
detected and reported from time to time by Various doctors who examined Nurul Haque
after his apprehension by the police and regardless of the recommendations for
X-ray examination of the injured leg, which was never done, the contemner has
boldly reported to this Court that Nurul Haque was not tortured during the
period of police custody. His report begins under the heading "Death of
veteran dacoit Nurul Haque" and ends with the summing up "Dacoit, Nurul
Haque died neither in Police Lock-up nor in Police Custody".
goes to show that the contemner was trying to highlight the fact that Nurul Haque
was a veteran dacoit and possibly deserved the treatment that he got at the
hand of the police. The CBI report indicates that there is no record of any
conviction of Nurul Haque in any dacoity case. Not only that the story of
saving Nurul Haque from public wrath by the police party on 9th March, 1993 is also not borne out by facts. He
was not taken for medical examination on the 5th March immediately after the
alleged assault by the members of the public. He was taken to Hailakandi Civil Hospital at 5.30 p.m. on 10th March when various fresh injuries were noted on his
body by the doctors. No case of assault was also registered after rescuing Nurul
Haque from alleged public wrath. This case was made only after Narul Haque's
death. The report from the very beginning has tried to mislead the Court as to
the cause of death of Nurul Haque and the alleged events that led to his
apprehension by the police. The emphasis that he was a veteran dacoit was also
obviously with a view to create prejudice. Far from trying to help the Court to
do justice in this case, his report has tried to mislead the Court and prevent
the Court from finding out the truth about the allegations made by the Bar
Association of Hailakandi.
therefore, hold that the contemner deliberately forwarded an inaccurate report
with a view to misleading this Court and thereby interfered with the due course
of justice by attempting to obstruct this Court from reaching a correct
conclusion. In the facts and circumstances of the case, we cannot accept his
apology and hereby reject it. We hold him guilty of contempt under Article 129
of the Constitution read with Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Having regard to the gravity of the case, we sentence the contemner A.K. Sinha Cassyap
to undergo simple imprisonment for a term of three months. The contempt rule is
disposed of finally as above.
Director General of Police, Assam is directed to ensure that this order is carried out
forthwith and the contemner is taken into custody and imprisoned to serve the
sentence. The Registrar General will communicate this order to Director General
of Police, Assam, with a direction to report compliance to him.