Bhano Vs. Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police Head-Quarters & Ors  INSC 384 (14 December 1989)
B.C. (J) Ray, B.C. (J) Pandian, S.R. (J)
1990 AIR 513 1989 SCR 488 1990 SCC (1) 422 JT 1989 (4) 553 1989 SCALE (2)1315
of India, 1950: Article 32--Tortious acts of
employees-Responsibility of State--Death of person due to beating by police
official--State directed to pay compensation.
Vicarious Liability--Death of child due to beating by Police--State directed to
pay compensation to mother.
Writ Petitions filed on behalf of two women, who were severely beaten by the
alleged landlord, in collusion with the local police, in their attempts to get
the rooms occupied by them vacated, the petitioners prayed for directions to
the respondents to pay exemplary charges to one of the women for the death of
her son but to injuries inflicted on him by the police.
alleged that the landlord's son, accompanied by the Station House Officer and
other police personnel severely beat the woman, and her nine year old son, who
was clinging to her to protect her, as a result of which the child suffered
severe injuries and died in the hospital.
medico-legal case was registered. The case was investigated by the Inspector of
Crime Branch, who submitted his report according to which there was a high
level conspiracy of the police with the accused in getting the rooms occupied
by the women vacated and opposed grant of bail as it was a clear case under
Section 302/120B I.P.C.
counter-affidavit on behalf of Respondent No. 1 was filed stating that the
Station House Officer himself took part in the beatings and the minor child was
also not spared and the child sustained severe injury in the left leg, which
was opined as a grievous one, and that the injuries inflicted on the child
caused fever and pneumonitis, resulting in the death of the child, and a case
under Sections 308/34 I.P.C. which was later altered to 304/34 I.P.C. was
registered and one of the accused arrested.
Disposing of the Writ Petitions, this Court,
1.1 An action for damages lies for bodily harm which includes battery, assault,
false imprisonment, physical injuries and death. In cases of assault, battery
and false imprisonment, the damages are large and represent a solatium for the
mental pain, distress, indignity, loss of liberty and death. [494E]
is well settled that the State is responsible for the tortious acts of its
employees. [494F] In the instant case, it is apparent, from the report of the
Inspector of the Crime Branch and the counter-affidavit fried on behalf of the
Commissioner of Police and also from the fact that the prosecution has been
launched in connection with death of the child that the child was done to death
on account of the beating and assault by the agency of the sovereign power
acting in violation and excess of the power vested in such agency. The mother
of the child is, therefore, entitled to get compensation from respondent No. 2,
which is liable for payment of compensation for the death of the child due to
beating by the Police officials concerned. It is, therefore, just and proper to
direct respondent No. 2 to pay compensation to the mother of the deceased
child, a sum of Rs.75,000. [494C-D; 495F] [Respondent No. 2 may take
appropriate steps for recovery of the amount paid as compensation or part
thereof from the officers, who will be found responsible, if they are so
advised. As the Police Officers are not parties before the Court, any
observation made by the Court in justification of this order shall not have any
bearing in any proceedings specially criminal prosecution pending against the
police officials in connection with the death of the child. [495G] Joginder Kaur
v. The Punjab State and Ors.,  ACJ 28 at 32 and The State of Rajasthan v.
Mst. Vidhyawati and Anr.,  Supp 2 SCR 989 at 1007, relied on.
JURSIDICTION: Writ Petition (Criminal) Nos. 250-53 of 1988.
Article 32 of the Constitution of India).
Mukhoty and S.K. Bhattacharya for the Petitioners.
V.C. Mahajan, Ms. A. Subhashini and R.B. Mishra for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by RAY, J. These writ petitions have been
filed by the Women's and Civil Rights Organization known as SAHELI, a Women's
Resources Centre on behalf of two women Maya Devi and Kamlesh Kumari who have
been residing in one room tenament each on the ground floor of house No.
408/5/A L Gali No. 29 Anand Parbat and were severely beaten up by the alleged
landlord in collusion with the S.H.O., Shri Lal Singh and the police of Anand Parbat
Police Station. The facts of the case giving rise to these writ petitions are
as follows:Kamlesh Kumari and her husband Inder Singh moved into the house No.
408/5/A L, Gali No. 29, Anand Parbat in 1974.
had three children, Saroj 13 years old girl, Naresh 9 years old boy (now
deceased) and Suresh 7 years old boy.
were living in one room on the ground floor of the said house which is a double
storey. The other lady, Maya Devi has also been living in another room of the
said house on the ground floor with her husband and children. The husband of
both Kamlesh Kumari and Maya Devi are truck drivers and they often remain away
from their home. There is a dispute over the ownership of the house. In or
about 1984, the old landlord, one Tajinder Singh left the house and one Manohar
Lal claims to be the new landlord. At present, one Puran Chand and his two sons
Shambu Dayal and Prakash Chand claim to have bought the said property from Manohar
Lal and they have been illegally evicting all the tenants from the said premises.In
their attempt they succeeded in evicting all the tenants except the two tenants
named Kamlesh Kumari and Maya Devi. It is because of these illegal threats of
eviction, Kamlesh Kumari obtained an order of stay from the Court against her
forceful eviction and that said order is in force. Some time in October, 1987
the so-called landlords cut off the water and electricity supply to Kamlesh Kumari's
room and the same has not been restored till this day. On November, 2, 1987 the
then S.H.O. of Anand Parbat Police Station, Lal Singh called for Kamlesh Kumari
and told her to vacate the room. On November 4, 1987, the said S.H.O. again called for Kamlesh
Kumari and when she arrived at the police station she found that the so-called
landlords were already present there. In the presence of Shambu Dayal and
others, Lal Singh told Kamlesh Kumari to take some money and leave the room
whereon Kamlesh Kumari said that she should be given some time especially
because her children are studying in schools. On November 491 12, 1987, the
said S.H.O. once again called Kamlesh Kumari and this time he threatened to
lock her up if she refused to vacate the room. November 13, 1987, Kamlesh Kumari went to Tis Hazari Court to consult her lawyer. On coming back she found her
children missing and Maya Devi was standing outside, all her belongings thrown
out. Maya Devi told Kamlesh Kumari that the Sub-Inspector of Police K.L. Nanda
of Anand Parbat Police Station had come and had taken away her children and had
thrown away Maya Devi from her room. Kamlesh Kumari immediately went to the
Police Station and met the S.H.O., Lal Singh and asked him about her children.
The S.H.O. said that her children had been kept locked up and she would not be
allowed to see her children unless she vacated the room. Kamlesh Kumari then
went to Tis Hazari
Court to see her
lawyer. The lawyer phoned the Police control room and rushed back to Anand Parbat
great difficulty the lawyer got the three children released from the police
same day, i.e. November
13, 1987, after Kamlesh
Kumari and her children had just taken their dinner, Shambu Dayal trespassed
into her room and hit Kamlesh Kumari on the forehead with a brick. She rushed
to the police station and reported the matter to the police. The police had her
medically examined but refused to take any action against the assailants.
On November 14, 1987, Kamlesh Kumari was attacked by Shambu
Dayal, his brother Prakash Chand accompanied by Lal Singh in civilian clothes
and Sham Lal, Sub-Inspector in uniform accompanied by two others. They beat Kamlesh
Kumari, tore her clothes and molested her. Her nine year old son clung to his
mother to protect her when Lal Singh took him away and forcibly threw him on
the floor. Lal Singh also asked Shambu Dayal to beat Naresh. Kamlesh Kumari was
dragged away to the police station and a criminal case was imposed upon her of
trespass. She was sent to Tihar Jail and her lawyer got her released on November 16, 1987. Kamlesh Kumari on her release came
back and found that her child, Naresh was in a very bad condition. The children
took shelter at a neighbour's house and the neighbours had got local doctors to
look after Naresh. On the advice of the doctors, Naresh was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on November
18, 1987. However, no
medical legal case was registered.
Kumari's lawyer tried to get a medical legal case registered. At last medical
legal case was registered on November 23, 1987
by the ACP, Patel Nagar at 11.30 p.m. In
the FIR No. 143/87 the said ACP had written that she had said that no policeman
had beaten 492 her son although she had specifically named Lal Singh and
others. On November 26,
1987, Naresh died in
hospital and an inquest was carried out. This news was published in the Hindi
December 10, 1987, S.D.M., Vipul Mittra called Kamlesh Kumari to his office
stating that he was conducting an enquiry into the facts and circumstances
leading to Naresh's death. On December 6, 1987,
the Crime Branch filed its report in the court opposing bail for Shambu Dayal.
In the said report, it has been stated that the details of the D.D. entries
mentioned in the bail application itself show conspiracy or connivance of the
local police with the accused.
report was annexed as annexure 'C' to these petitions.
Kumari and her neighbours and lawyer on the day of Naresh's death sat on dharna
outside the residence of the Lt. Governor and demanded that a judicial enquiry
be ordered into the death of Kamlesh's son, Naresh. The report given by the
fact-finding-team of the Peoples' Union
for Democratic Rights, into the death of Naresh was also published. The said
report states that the representatives of the Peoples' Union for Democratic Rights met the S.D.M., Vipul Mittra
who told them that he would intimate them his findings; but subsequently when
they contacted him it was told that it was a sensitive report and it can be
made public only by the Lt.
As such the instant writ petitions were moved before this Court praying amongst
others the issuance of a writ for directions directing the respondents to pay Kamlesh
Kumari exemplary damages for the death of her son, Naresh.
June 13, 1988, this Court directed to implead the Medical Superintendent, Ram Manohar
Lohia Hospital, New Delhi as respondent No. 4 and also directed the Medical
Superintendent to keep the record relating to Naresh, son of Kamlesh Kumari in
a sealed cover and deposit the same with the Registrar of this Court within two
weeks from the date of the order. By order dated August 22, 1988 the
respondents were given two weeks time to file counter-affidavit and one week's
time thereafter was given to the petitioners to file rejoinder.
Deol, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Headquarters (II), Delhi, on behalf of Commissioner of
Police affirmed an affidavit in counter wherein it has been stated that:
the basis of the aforesaid complaint ACP/Patel Nagar got registered case FIR No.
143 dated 24.11.1987 under section 308/34 IPC, P.S. Anand Parbat, New Delhi and
entrusted investigation to Inspector, Vigilance, Central 493 Distt., who
arrested accused Shambu Dayal, son of Puran Chand on 24.11.1987. On 26.11. 1987
Naresh expired in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and post-mortem was got conducted. The autopsy doctor
opined that injuries were ante-mortem caused by blunt force impact/possible
injuries were not sufficient to cause death. Death was due to pneumonitis as
was changed to Section 304/34 IPC." It has also been stated therein that
Maya Devi was residing in one room adjacent to room of Kamlesh Kumari for 6-7
months, the landlords did not issue any rent receipt. It was also stated that:
..... On 13.11.1987 the landlord forcibly got vacated the room in possession of
Maya Devi with the connivance of local police which is evident from the DD
entry made by Asstt.
Kishan Lal who visited the spot on the information of quarrel between Maya Devi
and landlord's men." It has further been stated that on 14.11.1987, Shambu
Dayal got registered a false case under section 4448 IPC to get the above
objective and the local police arrested Smt. Kamlesh Kumari the same day. She
was not admitted to bail despite approach by her relatives. The S.H.O. himself
took part in the beatings and the minor child (Naresh) of Smt. Kamlesh was also
not spared, and was thrown away while he clung to feet of his mother, while she
was being beaten mercilessly. Naresh sustained severe injury in his left leg
and could not be attended by the doctors in absence of his parents. On
16.11.1987 only Naresh was attended by his mother after release from jail and
by then the child had suffered from old ailments. She took him to R.M.L.
Hospital on the advice of the local doctors. The injuries inflicted to Naresh
on 14.11.1987 caused fever and pneumoitis and finally resulted in his death.
Later on the nature of injury on left leg of the child was opined to be grievous
one." The relevant portion of the report dated 5.12.1987 submitted by Puran
Singh, Inspector, Crime Branch, Delhi is quoted hereunder:
far it seems that there is a high level conspiracy in getting the rooms of
tenants got vacated by the landlord if the accused is bailed out, it will be
difficult to find out the 494 truth. Smt. Shobha and the doctor are already
under pressure. As the local police is involved in all this episode so bailing
out the accused will definitely affect the fate of the case. The accused should
not be bailed out as it is clear case u/s 304/120 B I.P.C. The details of DD
entries mentioned in the bail application itself show the conspiracy or
connivance of the local police with the accused. Therefore the bail is opposed
strongly." The landlord, Shambu Dayal and Puran Prakash and Lal Singh,
S.H.O. and Shyam Lal, Sub-Inspector have been impleaded as respondents by order
dated September 20,
1988 in these writ
petitions. They also filed counter-affidavits.
now apparent from the report dated 5.12.1987 of the Inspector of the Crime
Branch, Delhi as well as the counter-affidavit of the Deputy Commissioner of
Police, Delhi on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, Delhi and also from the
fact that the prosecution has been launched in connection with the death of Naresh,
son of Kamlesh Kumari showing that Naresh was done to death on account of the
beating and assault by the agency of the sovereign power acting in violation
and excess of the power vested in such agency. The mother of the child, Kamlesh
Kumari, in our considered opinion, is so entitled to get compensation for the
death of her son from the respondent No. 2, Delhi Administration.
action for damages lies for bodily harm which includes battery, assault, false
imprisonment, physical injuries and death. In cases of assault, battery and
false imprisonment the damages are at large and represent a solatium for the
mental pain, distress, indignity, loss of liberty and death. As we have held
hereinbefore that the son of Kamlesh Kumari aged 9 years died due to beating
and assault by the S.H.O., Lal Singh and as such she is entitled to get the
damages for the death of her son. It is well settled now that the State is
responsible for the tortious acts of its employees. The respondent No. 2, Delhi
Administration is liable for payment of compensation to Smt. Kamlesh Kumari for
the death of her son due to beating by the S.H.O. of Anand Parbat Police
Station, Shri Lal Singh.
convenient to refer in this connection the decision in Joginder Kaur v. The Punjab State and Ors.,  ACJ 28 at 32 wherein it has been observed
the matter of liability of the State for the torts committed by its employees,
it is now the settled law that the State 495 is liable for tortious acts committed
by its employees in the course of their employment." In The State of
Rajasthan v. Mst. Vidhyawati and Anr.,  Supp 2 SCR 989 at 1007 has been
the case from the point of view of first principles, there should be no
difficulty in holding that the State should be as much liable for tort in
respect of a tortious act committed by its servant within the scope of his
employment and functioning as such as any other employer. The immunity of the
Crown in the United Kingdom, was based on the old feudalistic notions of
Justice, namely, that the King was incapable of doing a wrong, and, therefore,
of authorising or instigating one, and that he could not be sued in his own
courts. In India, ever since the time of the East India Company, the sovereign
has been held liable to be sued in tort or in contract, and the Common Law
immunity never operated in India ...... " In Peoples Union for Democratic
Rights through its Secretary and Anr. v. Police Commissioner, Delhi Police
Headquarters and Anr., (Writ Petition Crl. Nos. 401-402 of 1988 orders in which
were pronounced by this Court on January 13, 1989) one of the labourers who was
taken to the police station for doing some work and on demand for wages was
severely beaten and ultimately succumbed to the injuries. It was held that the
State was liable to pay compensation and accordingly directed that the family
of the deceased labourer will be paid Rs. 75,000 as compensation.
conspectus of these decisions we deem it just and proper to direct the Delhi
Administration, respondent No. 2 to pay compensation to Kamlesh Kumari, mother
of the deceased, Naresh a sum of Rs.75,000 within a period of four weeks from
the date of this judgment. The Delhi Administration may take appropriate steps
for recovery of the amounts paid as compensation or part thereof from the
officers who will be found responsible, if they are so advised. As the Police
officers are not parties before us, we state that any observation made by us in
justification of this order shall not have any beating in any proceedings specially
criminal prosecution pending against the police officials in connection with
the death of Naresh. The writ petitions are disposed of accordingly.
Petitions disposed of.