‘Illegal custody’ of businessman: Will ask Gujarat HC to give proper training to magistrates, says SC

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for some of the respondents, said they had committed a “mistake”

January 30, 2024 04:26 am | Updated 04:26 am IST - NEW DELHI

The top court had issued notices to the additional chief secretary of the State’s home department, Surat police commissioner, deputy commissioner of police, inspector of Vesu police station and the additional chief judicial magistrate concerned and sought their replies by January 29.

The top court had issued notices to the additional chief secretary of the State’s home department, Surat police commissioner, deputy commissioner of police, inspector of Vesu police station and the additional chief judicial magistrate concerned and sought their replies by January 29. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Having termed as "grossest of contempt" the police remand of a businessman granted anticipatory bail, the Supreme Court said on January 29 it will ask the Gujarat High Court to impart proper training to magistrates.

Voicing extreme displeasure over the police remand of the Gujarat-based businessman, the top court had on January 10 issued notice to some police officials and a judicial magistrate of Surat on a contempt petition filed by the man.

The top court was informed it had on December 8 last year granted anticipatory bail to petitioner Tusharbhai Rajnikantbhai Shah but he was remanded in police custody from December 13 to 16, 2023 in a cheating case.

The matter came up for hearing again on Monday by a Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for some of the respondents, said they had committed a "mistake".

"This is not something which can be defended or should be defended. The real reason is, this is clearly a case of mistake," he told the Bench.

The Bench observed that the top court's December 8, 2023 order granting anticipatory bail to Mr. Shah was clear and it was also placed before the magistrate and the police officials concerned.

"We will have to ask the Gujarat High Court to give proper training to the magistrates and the State government to educate its officers properly," the court observed.

Mr. Mehta told the Bench that the police officer who "misread" the order of the top court has been placed under suspension.

He said the Surat Commissioner of Police was not initially aware about the order passed by the top court.

The Bench was also informed about a practice in Gujarat where, generally, the order granting anticipatory bail to an applicant mentions that liberty is granted to investigating officer to apply for his or her remand.

"Then Gujarat needs to be educated if you follow this practice," the Bench observed, adding: "The magistrates also need to be educated. You have such a beautiful [training] academy at Ahmedabad."

The Bench said it would be appropriate that the Gujarat High Court is also heard before the top court proceeds to decide the matter.

It issued notice to the High Court through its Registrar General and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.

Mr. Shah's counsel had earlier alleged before the top court that he was threatened and beaten in the presence of the complainant in the case in order to extort ₹1.65 crore and remanded in police custody.

"It seems Gujarat follows different laws. It is happening in the diamond capital of the world [Surat]. This is pure violation of our orders," the Bench had observed on January 10.

Senior advocate Iqbal H. Syed and advocate Mohammad Aslam, appearing for Mr. Shah, had then said they have filed an application with the commissioner of police to preserve the CCTV footage of Surat's Vesu police station from December 13, 2023 till December 16, 2023, when the petitioner was in police custody.

The top court had issued notices to the additional chief secretary of the State's home department, Surat police commissioner, deputy commissioner of police, inspector of Vesu police station and the additional chief judicial magistrate concerned and sought their replies by January 29.

In his plea, Mr. Shah said the top court had on December 8, 2023 ordered that in the event of his arrest, he be released on bail in connection with the FIR dated July 21, 2023 subject to him executing a personal bond of ₹25,000.

He said after the December 8 order, he went to the police station on December 11 to join the investigation. Police arrested him the same day and released him on bail after he executed a bond as directed by the top court.

Mr. Shah was served a notice by the city police the same day (December 11) asking him to be present on December 12 for further recording his statement in the case.

"Thereafter, the petitioner was served with a notice directing him to remain present before the court of the concerned magistrate for the purpose of seeking his police remand. The service of this notice dated December 12, 2023 marks the beginning of a chain of actions in contempt of the order of this court dated December 8, 2023, committed by the respondent authorities with the ulterior motive of extorting a sum of ₹1.65 crore from the petitioner," his plea said.

Mr. Shah claimed that the judicial magistrate vide order dated December 13, 2023 heard the remand application moved by police and remanded him in police custody till December 16, 2023 in contempt of the top court order.

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