Supreme Court imposes a cost of Rs. 6 lakhs for each of the two complainants to six police personnel involved in illegal demolition

Share on:

On January 30, 2024, the Supreme Court (SC) of India was hearing the Shatrughna Atmaram Patil vs. Vinod Dodhu Chaudhary case related to the illegal demolition of the premises owned by one Rajeev Ramrai Chavan (deceased). While hearing the case, the SC directed that the six police personnel involved in abetting the crime of illegal detention of the tenants (two complainants), coercing them to sign the document against their will and demolishing the premises in question without any order from a competent court, would suffer a cost of Rs. 6 lakhs for each of the two complainants. Out of the six police personnel, there were three constables, one Head Constable, one Sub-Inspector, and one Inspector. The bench comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma ordered “They shall suffer a cost of Rs. 50,000/- per Constable, Rs.1,00,000/- by the Head Constable, Rs. 1.50 lacs by the Sub-Inspector, and Rs. 2.0 lacs by the Inspector, totaling Rs. 6.0 lacs for each case with the above distribution.” It further directed to deposit the amount in the account of the Armed Forces Battle Casualties Welfare Fund within 4 weeks from January 30, 2024. The SC bench ordered to file proof of the deposited amount with the Registry of SC within 6 weeks as well as before the Magistrate and High Court.  

In this case, the premises in question had three tenants. However, for the present, we are concerned with only two tenants as the third tenant did not file any complaint. The property was sold by the owner (deceased) to five persons vide a registered sale deed dated October 27, 2021. The vendor of the sale deed died allegedly having committed suicide on March 08, 2022, and left behind a suicide note, naming the tenants as abettors. In this context, a complaint was made to the local police. However, an accidental death was registered, but no FIR was registered under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The tenants were called to the concerned police station for investigation. They were held for about 24 hours, and in the meantime, the premises in question were demolished by the brother of the deceased-vendor, his widow, and with the support of the local police. At the Police Station, the tenants were also forced to sign some documents, apparently giving their consent to vacate the premises voluntarily. 

The two tenants moved an application before the concerned Magistrate. The Magistrate passed an order for an inquiry under Section 202 Cr.P.C., confining it to the involvement of the brother of the deceased, the widow of the deceased, and the five purchasers. The same was challenged by the complainants/tenants before the session judge who allowed the revision and directed that the complaint filed before the Magistrate be forwarded to the concerned Police Station for registration and investigation. The order of the Revisional Court was challenged before the High Court by all the 13 accused through separate petitions. The HC, while deciding these petitions, not only approved the order of the Sessions Judge but also issued further directions regarding the investigation, by the impugned order. The matter was then mentioned before the SC bench. It opined that “why the police personnel have been allowed to go scot-free in a case where they had an apparent role in conspiring and in abetting the crime of the illegal detention of the tenants, coercing them to sign the document against their will, and getting the premises in question demolished without any order from a competent Court.” 

After hearing the matter, the bench directed that the six police personnel will suffer a cost of Rs. 6.0 lacs for each of the two complainants. The SC further said, “It is further made clear that if the proof of deposit is not filed within the stipulated time, these petitions filed by the police personnel would stand dismissed.”