Gujarat HC Sentences four cops to 14-day jail for Contempt of Court linked to 2022 Kheda Flogging case

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday sentenced four policemen, including an inspector, to 14 days of simple imprisonment in a case of contempt of court that stemmed from the public flogging of some minority community members at a village in Kheda district of the state in 2022.

A division bench of Justices A S Supehia and Gita Gopi held the four policemen guilty of contempt of court and ordered them to spend 14 days in jail as punishment.

The bench led by Justice Supehia directed these policemen to remain present before the judicial registrar of the court within 10 days of getting the order so that they can be sent to an “appropriate jail”.

But in a reprieve to the policemen, the high court stayed the implementation of its order for a period of three months to allow the accused to file an appeal against the judgement

These four police personnel are inspector A V Parmar, sub-inspector D B Kumavat, head constable K L Dabhi and constable R R Dabhi.

The high court had framed charges against them after they were identified and their role was specified in a report prepared by the chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Kheda, after an inquiry into the incident.

During a hearing on the sentence on Thursday, advocate Prakash Jani, appearing for the policemen, urged the court to show a lenient approach in view of the service record of these policemen.

Instead of a jail term, Jani requested the court to only impose a fine, give appropriate directions to them and keep the matter pending to see if they have complied with the court’s directives.

However, the complainants’ lawyer I H Syed opposed it saying “if such an act is pardoned by way of compensation, fine or apology, it will lower the dignity of the court. It will also set the wrong precedent, because it will encourage other policemen to do such thing”.

The bench, however, rejected Jani’s idea of keeping the matter pending saying the policemen had “committed an inhuman act” by “tying the people in their custody with a pole and then flogged them in full public view of the villagers”.

In the previous hearing, the court had framed charges against the policemen after finding them guilty under the Contempt of Courts Act for violating the Supreme Court guidelines issued in the case of D K Basu vs. State of West Bengal regarding compliance with the proper procedure before arresting any individual.

The five persons, who were allegedly flogged by the policemen, had also refused to accept monetary compensation from four policemen who were found guilty of contempt of court for the act.

During the Navratri festival celebrated in October last year, a mob comprising members of the Muslim community allegedly hurled stones at a garba event at Undhela village in Kheda district, injuring some villagers and police personnel.

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Videos purportedly showing police personnel publicly flogging three of the 13 arrested accused went viral on social media.

Later, five accused, including the main complainant Jahirmiya Malek, had approached the HC claiming the police personnel involved in the act had committed contempt of court by flouting the Supreme Court’s directions on making arrests.

As part of its 1996 landmark judgement, the apex court had issued a set of guidelines to be followed in all cases of arrest and detention.

A total of 13 policemen were accused in the case initially.

Later, the role of the four police personnel was specified in a report prepared by the chief judicial magistrate of Kheda after an inquiry into the incident.

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