The Madras High Court bench here on Wednesday directed four constables in Madurai to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 each to the wife of a member of Tamil Puligal organisation for handcuffing him without obtaining permission from the Magistrate.

A division bench comprising Justices N. Paul Vasanthakumar and P. Devadass passed an order in this regard on a contempt petition filed by M. Nirmala, the wife of Muthupandi, deputy secretary of Tamil Puligal organisation in Madurai. Muthupandi and two other members, Soundarapandi and Mookaiya were arrested by the Madurai police in 2011 after they allegedly burnt a State-run bus on the wake of the arrest of Nagi Thiruvalluvan, the State secretary of Tamil Puligal organisation, Mrs. Nirmala said in her petition.

According to the petitioner’s counsel R. Alagumani, the Collector passed an order detaining Muthupandi and two others under the National Security Act on May 18, 2011. The three persons were lodged in the Madurai Central Prison and were taken by the police to be produced before the Judicial Magistrate (JM) VI in Madurai on several occasions, he said.

Whenever the police took Muthupandi and others to the JM court, they had handcuffed them without obtaining permission from the concerned Magistrate as mandated by the Supreme Court, the counsel contended. The act of the police amounted to ‘wilful disobedience’ of the apex court’s judgment and they were liable to be punished for contempt of court, he argued. Besides, it also amounted to serious violation of human rights, Mr. Alagumani alleged.

Contempt proceedings

Therefore, he pleaded the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Superintendent of Police, Madurai District, Superintendent of Police, Madurai Central Prison, the inspector of Nagamalai Pudukottai police station, and the inspector of Koodakovil police station for contempt of court as they had not instructed the escort police not to handcuff the prisoners without permission.

The Commissioner of Police, Madurai City, filed a counter affidavit, in which he said, “The police unfortunately had handcuffed the prisoners as they were very conscious that the detained persons should not escape from their custody in the crowded area outside the court. As soon as they had entered the police vehicle, their handcuffs were removed.”

In his petition, the Commissioner expressed his sincere regret for the ‘error committed by the escort police.’ On Wednesday, former SP Asra Garg appeared before the division bench and submitted that the police department gave training to the police constables at the recruitment stage on treating the prisoners.

The four constables, who escorted the prisoners, were summoned to appear before the judges. V. Selvam, V. Ramakrishnan J. Gunasekaran and Alagarpandi appeared before the division bench, admitted their guilt and apologised.

The judges directed each of the four constables to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 to the petitioner. However they instructed the police officials not to initiate disciplinary action against the constables as it would affect their career.

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