Harbans Kaur Vs. Union of India 
INSC 696 (16 December 1994)
SEN, S.C. (J) SEN, S.C. (J) JEEVAN REDDY,
CITATION: 1995 SCC (1) 623 JT 1995 (1) 240
1994 SCALE (5)279
is a habeas corpus petition filed by Smt. Harbans Kaur. The petitioner prays
for a direction upon the Director General of Police, State of Punjab, and other
respondents, to produce the petitioner's sons Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjeet
Singh. There is also a prayer for an order directing inquiry into the cause of
death of Gurbax Singh. The allegation is that the Gurbax Singh was in police
custody from 3rd April, 1994 till date of his death.
has been alleged in the petition that Surinder Pal Singh, Gurbax Singh,
Sarvjeet Singh and Manjit Singh, the sons of the petitioner, were married and
were living with their families at 1619/2, Durgapuri, Habowal, Kalan, Ludhiana,
Punjab, along with their mother, the petitioner herein.
3.4.1994 Surinder Pal Singh was called to the Police Post through a Constable.
Since then his whereabouts were not known and it was alleged that he was kept
in unlawful custody of Police and had not been produced before any Magistrate.
The petitioner made representation to the Director General of Police and
various other important persons of the State, but to no avail.
has been alleged that on 27.4.1994one Constable came to the house of the
petitioner and asked for Gurbax Singh.
The Constable stated that if Gurbax Singh
appeared before SI Surjit Chand Sharma, then Surinder Pal Singh would be
released from police custody.
24th June, 1994, Sarvjit and Manjit applied for anticipatory bail in the Court
of Additional Sessions Judge,Ludhiana, and an interim order was passed. The
case was adjourned till 29.6.1994.
has been further alleged that on 5.6.1994the third son of the petitioner
Sarvjeet Singh was picked up by SI Surjit Chand Sharma. He was also not
produced before the Court.
has also been alleged that Gurbax Singh was taken to the police custody on 27.4.1994
and was mercilessly beaten.
When his condition became very critical, the
Police got him admitted in the Hospital D.M.C., Ludhiana, on 9th June, 1994. On
12th June, 1994 he was declared dead. It was the contention of the petitioner
that none of the three sons of the petitioner were ever produced before the
the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent, it has been stated that on
4.4.1994 an F.1.R. was filed in which allegations were made that five persons,
namely, Gurbax Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Sarvjeet Singh, Manjit Singh and
Puran Singh, had committed offences under the provisions of Sections
420/408/468/471/ 148 and 411 of Indian Penal Code.
The 242 first four persons were the sons of
the writ petitioner and the fifth person was a truck driver. After preliminary
inquiries, Surinder Pal and Sarvjeet Singh were arrested on 23rd June, 1994 and
were produced before the local Magistrate on 24.6.1994. The Judicial Magistrate
remanded them to judicial custody at Central Jail, Ludhiana, where both the
accused are now lodged. Puran Singh was arrested subsequently on 8.7.1994 from
Kamal. In his case, remand to police custody was ordered till 13.7.1994. Manjit
Singh was avoiding Police and hence could not be interrogated.
is a controversy about the date when Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjeet Singh were
taken into police custody.
The writ petitioner as early as on 9.6.1994
and 13th June, 1994 had sent telegrams and letters to various authorities about
the unlawful detention of her three sons, Surinder Pal Singh, Gurbax Singh and
Sarvjeet Singh, in P.P. Ghumar Mandi, P.S. Division No.5, Ludhiana.
the telegrams and letters had no effect, this habeas corpus petition was filed.
Thereafter, Surinder Pal and Sarvjeet were produced before the Judicial
Magistrate, First Class, Ludhiana, on 29.6.94 and were remanded to judicial
custody at Central Jail of Ludhiana. Therefore, the habeas corpus petition in
the case of Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjeet Singh has now become infructuous.
only question that remains for consideration is the case of Gurbax Singh.
According to the respondents, Gurbax Singh had not been arrested or
interrogated or taken into police custody in any manner at all. Gurbax died of
heat stroke in hospital. The records produced by Dayanand Medical College &
Hospital Ludhiana, reveal that Gurbax singh was admitted to the hospital on
10th June, 1994 at 5.40 P.M., suffering from high fever; the diagnosis was that
he was suffering from heat stroke, coma and shock. He died in the hospital at
5.32 P.M. on 14th June, 1994. According to the hospital record, the body was
handed over to his wife, Rajinder Kaur. It also appears from the hospital
record that at the time of admission, Ajay Paul Singh, nephew of Gurbax Singh,
gave written consent on behalf of Gurbax Singh, to undergo the treatment in the
hospital and also to undergo investigations, anaesthesia or operation, as
advised by the Physician/Surgeon.
against this, it has to be borne in mind that the writ petitioner had appealed
to various authorities, including D.G. Police, by telegram complaining about
the unlawful detention of her sons Surinder, Gurbax and Sarvjeet. This telegram
was sent on 9.6.94. This was followed up by a letter dated 13th June, 1994, in
which it was alleged:- "....... my sons are in unlawful custody of the
police and they are trying to show them as absconders....... Gurbax Singh was
taken in a general hospital by a constable and the police has obtained
signatures of the wife of Gurbax Singh to cover their mischief and to prove
innocence. Gurbax Singh is almost at death bed and he may die at any
habeas corpus petition was affirmed on 16th June, 1994. An affidavit of urgency
verified on 22nd June, 1994 was filed in this Court expressing the
apprehension:- "That the one son of the deponent i.e. 243 Shri Gurubaksh
Singh was murdered in police custody on 12.6.1994. The remaining two sons of
deponent are in unlawful custody and their whereabouts and welfare are not
known till date. The deponent is under apprehension that they will also be
killed if the matter is not listed immediately.
the remaining two sons of the deponent i.e. Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjit
Singh were picked up by the Police on 3.4.94 and 5.4.94, Since then they are
tortured and harassed by the police. "
allegations have also been made in the writ petition against the police
officials. It has been stated that Gurbax Singh was taken into custody on
27.4.1994, He was mercilessly beaten. He was in police custody on 12th June,
1994. He was unconscious and his condition was very critical when he was
admitted in the hospital on 10th June, 1994. In the F.I.R. filed on 4.4.1994
all the four sons of the petitioner Gurbax Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Sarvjeet
Singh and Manjit Singh were named. It has been stated by the respondent on
Affidavit that Manjit Singh was avoiding the police. No such allegation was
made against the Gurbax Singh. The allegation that Gurbax Singh had been
arrested by police has been denied. Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjeet Singh were
produced before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Ludhiana on 29.6.94. This
was after the death of Gurbax Singh. The petitioner has prayed for inquiry into
the cause of death of Gurbax Singh. Although Gurbax was named in the F.I.R.,
the respondents have not stated in the affidavit anything about him. It has
been admitted that Surinder Pal and Sarvjeet were arrested, Manjit Singh was
avoiding police. It is not the case of the respondents that Gurbax was also
allegation that has been made by the petitioner on the facts that have been
brought on the record of this Court, is that the police investigation causes
great concern. The mother of Gurbax Singh had been complaining about the illegal
detention of her three sons for a long time. She did not receive any reply to
her letters from any quarters. It was only when she filed a habeas corpus
petition, Surinder Pal and Sarvjeet were produced before the judicial
Magistrate at Ludhiana on 29.6.1994. There are conflicting allegations about
the cause of the death of Gurbax Singh. However, now that Surinder Pal and
Sarvjeet have been produced before the Magistrate and the Magistrate has
remanded them to judicial custody, no writ of habeas corpus need be issued in
respect of them. So far as Gurbax Singh is concerned, the unfortunate fact is
that he has died in a hospital. Therefore, no question arises for issue of a
writ of habeas corpus in his case.
is, however, one aspect of the case which causes concern. The writ petitioner
had expressed great anxiety about her sons and had sent telegrams and letters
to various authorities on 9.6.1994 and 13.6.1994. Her complaint was that her
three sons Surinder Pal, Gurbax and Sarvjeet had been taken into police
custody. The habeas corpus petition was affirmed on 16th June, 1994. An
affidavit of urgency was verified on 22nd June, 1994. It was only after the
habeas corpus petition was filed in this Court, that Surinder Pal and Sarvjeet
were produced before the local Magistrate of Ludhiana on 24th June, 1994. In
the facts of this case, it is difficult to assume that the letters and the
telegrams, that were sent by the petitioner, were without any basis.
244 Now that Gurbax Singh has died and
Surinder Pal Singh and Sarvjeet Singh have been produced before the Magistrate,
no writ of habeas corpus can be issued. But, very disturbing facts have been
brought to the notice of the Court concerning life and liberty of her sons. On
behalf of the writ petitioner, a prayer has been made that an enquiry should be
made as to the cause of the death of Gurbax Singh and also whether Surinder Pal
and Sarvjeet were detained in police custody for about a fortnight before they
were produced before a Magistrate.
the interest of justice, this case should be investigated by the Director
General of Police, Punjab. The Director General of Police is directed to make
an enquiry as to exactly when Surinder Pat Singh and Sarvjeet Singh were taken
into police custody and enquiry should also be made as to when, if at all,
Gurbax Singh was taken into police custody and whether he was mercilessly
beaten in police custody which, ultimately, led to his death. The Director
General of Police is directed to give a report to this Court within a period of
eight weeks from date.
writ petition, therefore, is adjourned for ten weeks.