Rahul Gandhi Case 2011, Illegal detention attributed, Petition supported by an affidavit of former MLA, Writ petition dismissed with heavy cost of Rs. 50 lacs

Rahul Gandhi Case 2011, Illegal detention attributed, Petition supported by an affidavit of former MLA, Writ petition dismissed with heavy cost of Rs. 50 lacs - Allahabad High Court

ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT

(Lucknow Bench)(D.B.)

Before :- Uma Nath Singh and Dr. Satish Chandra, JJ.
Writ Petition No.125 (H/C) of 2011


Sukanya Devi and others Versus State of U.P. and others. D/d. 7.3.2011

Habeas Corpus - Seeking production of detenu from illegal detention - Illegal detention attributed to Mr. Rahul Gandhi - Prayer made in another writ petition No. 111 (H/C) of 2011 for producing detenu before court, sought to be connected with present writ petition - Petition supported by an affidavit of former MLA claiming to be next friend of detenu - Writ petition No. 111 contained allegations against Mr. Rahul Gandhi and also questioned virtue and modesty of a young girl - Her mother condemned such allegations against Mr. Gandhi and sought severe punishment therefor - Dismissal of writ petition with heavy cost of Rs. 50 lacs with direction to register case against former MLA claiming to be next friend of detenu as also to prepare list of websites displaying scandalous information - Matter listed on 11.4.2011. [Paras 1 to 5]

JUDGMENT


Uma Nath Singh and Dr. Satish Chandra, JJ. - Memo of appearance of Sri I.B. Singh, Senior Advocate, with Sunil Kumar Singh, Advocate, filed under the signature of learned counsel on record Sri Shiv Chidambar in Court is taken on record.
On 10.02.2011, writ petition No.111 (M/S) of 2011 for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus was filed with the following cause title:
    "(1) Sukanya Devi, aged about 24 years, D/o Balram Singh, R/o 23-12, Medical Chowk, Sanjay Gandhi Marg, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P., through her next friend Kishor Samrite, aged about 42 years, S/o Nanji Samrite, R/o Village & Post - Lanji, District Bala Ghat, Madhya Pradesh.
    (2) Balram Singh, adult, S/o not known to the next friend, R/o 23-12, Medical Chowk, Sanjay Gandhi Marg, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P., through her next friend Kishor Samrite, aged about 42 years, S/o Nanji Samrite, R/o Village & Post - Lanji, District Bala Ghat, Madhya Pradesh.
    (3) Sumitra Devi, adult, W/o Balram Singh, R/o 23-12, Medical Chowk, Sanjay Gandhi Marg, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P., through her next friend Kishor Samrite, aged about 42 years, S/o Nanji Samrite, R/o Village & Post - Lanji, District Bala Ghat, Madhya Pradesh. -----Petitioners
Versus
    (1)State of U.P., through Principal Secretary (Home), Civil Secretariat, Lucknow.
    (2)Superintendent of Police, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P.
    (3)Station House Officer, Police Station Amethi, Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P.
    (4)Commissioner of Police, New Delhi.
    (5)Station House Officer, Police Station Sansad Marg, New Delhi.
    (6) Rahul Gandhi , adult, S/o Late Rajiv Gandhi , R/o 10, Janpath, New Delhi. ----Respondents"
The prayers for relief(s) as made in the writ petition are:
    "(I) Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of habeas corpus commanding the opposite parties, particularly opposite party no.6, to produce the petitioners before this Hon'ble Court and set them at liberty;
    (II) Issue any other order or direction which it deems fit and proper in the present circumstances, in favour of the petitioners, in the interest of justice, and
    (III) Award the cost of petition to the petitioners."
The writ petition is supported by an affidavit sworn in by one Kishor Samrite, Ex-MLA of Balaghat area of Madhya Pradesh who has claimed to be the next friend of the detenues. When the matter was listed on 01.03.2011 for preliminary hearing before a learned Single Judge of this Court, the following order was passed:
    "The petitioners claim their detention through their next friend, namely, Mr.Kishor Samrite under the custody of opposite party no.6 since 4th of January, 2007.
Let notice be issued to the opposite party No.6 to submit reply.
List after service report." It appears that having learnt about the contents of the above writ petition and the order passed therein, the instant writ petition was filed with the cause title as:
    "(1) Sukanya Devi, aged about 23 years, D/o Balram Singh, R/o Near Gurudwara Ward No.5 Town Area Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P. through next friend Gajendra Pal Singh, aged about 52 years, son of Jogindra Pal Singh, R/o Near Bus Station Town Area Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar.
    (2) Balram Singh, aged about 47 years, son of not known, R/o Near Gurudwara Ward No.5 Town Area Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P. through next friend and remote relative Sri Gajendra Pal Singh.
    (3) Sumitra alias Mohani Devi, aged about 42 years, R/o Near Gurudwara Ward No.5 Town Area Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P. through next friend Gajendra Pal Singh, aged about 52 years, son of Jogindra Pal Singh, R/o Near Bus Station Town Area Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar.
    ----Petitioners
Versus
    1. The State of U.P. through its Principal Secretary, Home Department, U.P. Government, Civil Secretariat, Lucknow.
    2. Superintendent of Police Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P.
    3. Station House Officer, Police Station Amethi, District Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P.
----- Respondents"
    The prayer part of the writ petition on reproduction reads as:
    "(a) Issue a writ or writ order or direction in the nature of habeas corpus commanding the opposite parties to produce the petitioners before this Hon'ble Court and set them at liberty;
    (b) to call the record of writ petition no.111 (H/C) of 2011 and connect with this present writ petition. The order passed in writ petition no.111 (H/C) of 2011 be reviewed and recalled;
    (c) to order the investigation by the appropriate agency;
    (d) Issue any other order or direction which is deemed fit and proper in the present circumstances in favour of the petitioners, in the interest of justice, and
    (e) Award the cost of the petition to the petitioners."
2. The matter came up for preliminary hearing before this Bench on 0 03.2011 when the following order was passed:
    "This writ petition has been filed with the prayers for issuance of a writ, order or direction in the nature of habeas corpus (i) commanding the opposite parties to produce the petitioners before this Court so as to set them at liberty; (ii) calling for the record of Writ Petition No.111 (H/C) of 2011 pending before the Court of a learned Single Judge and to connect it with this writ petition, and (iii) ordering investigation by some appropriate independent agency as this Court may deem fit and proper in the fact and circumstances of this case. The main purpose of filing a writ petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus is to seek production of detenue from illegal detention of public authorities or private persons and a writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution would not lie without the State or its instrumentalities being a party in terms of Article 12 thereof. It is essentially the duty of State authorities to ensure the maintenance of law and order, and to produce a detenue from illegal custody/detention if so directed by a Court. Though under the Allahabad High Court Rules, a Proviso was added in 1976 conferring powers also upon learned Single Judges to issue writ of habeas corpus in the matter of private detention (which has further added to the mounting pendency) but prima facie, it seems to be encroaching upon the powers entrusted to Magistrate under Section 97 of Cr.P.C. to seek production from a wrongful confinement which is an offence punishable under Section 342 IPC. These provisions on reproduction read as:
    "97. Search for persons wrongfully confined--If any District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate or Magistrate of the first class has reason to believe that any person is confined under such circumstances that the confinement amounts to an offence, he may issue a search-warrant, and the person to whom such warrant is directed may search for the person so confined; and such search shall be made in accordance therewith, and the person, if found, shall be immediately taken before a Magistrate, who shall make such order as in the circumstances of the case seems proper."
    "342- Punishment for wrongful confinement.--Whoever wrongfully confines any person shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both." In view of the aforesaid clear provisions and remedy, a question that also needs to be examined is as to whether a writ of habeas corpus would lie in the case of a private detention as provided under the rules. Issue notice to the Registrar General, Allahabad High Court to submit his reply within four weeks. In view of all the aforesaid, we direct that the records of Writ Petition No.111 (H/C) of 2011, said to be pending before a learned Single Judge, shall be connected with this writ petition. Besides, we also direct that the Director General of Police, U.P., shall produce the petitioners, in particular, Sukanya Devi, on the next date of hearing i.e. 7.3.2011. However, we make it clear that this direction to the Director General of Police, U.P., shall not be construed to mean that the detenu is in illegal custody of State authorities and the Director General of Police, U.P., in this case shall function only as an officer of the Court for the purpose of production of detenu.
    Let a copy of this order be served upon the Director General of Police, U.P., forthwith on fax by the Registrar of this Court for immediate compliance. Additionally, a copy of this order shall also be issued to the Government Counsel for doing the needful.
    List on 7.3.2011."
Pursuant to the order dated 0 03.2011, Dr. Balram Singh, his daughter Kirti Singh (who has been wrongly mentioned as 'Sukanya Devi) and wife Smt. Sushila @ Mohnini Devi (wrongly mentioned as 'Sumitra') are produced in Court. Dr. Balram Singh states that all the allegations made in the Habeas Corpus petition, namely, 111(HC) of 2011 are false and scandalous and he is rather shocked on being told about wild allegations made against political leader Shri Rahul Gandhi , Member of Parliament from Amethi. He pleads complete ignorance about the alleged incident.
Kirti Singh, daughter of Shri Balram Singh, states that she is aged about 22 years and has passed B.Sc. examination. Presently, she is preparing to appear at B.Ed. Examination. She also categorically denies the allegations made in the writ petition and states that all such averments are false and scandalous.
3. Smt. Sushila, mother of Kirti Singh (wrongly mentioned as Sukanya Devi), condemns the allegation made against Sri Rahul Gandhi and states that all those persons who have made such false allegations should be severely punished. All the three detenues produced in the Court, by the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, who himself is present in Court, are identified by Sri Prem Pal Singh, In-charge of District Crime Record Bureau (DCRB), District Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar.
At this stage, it is also pointed out by learned Advocate General appearing for the State that the addresses of detenues given in Writ Petition No.111 (H/C) of 2011 filed before the learned Single Judge are also absolutely wrong.
    Contrary to the stand taken by the detenues, in writ petition No.111(H/C) of 2011 filed before the learned Single Judge, some scandalous averments which can be termed as "abhorrent, atrocious and horrendous" have also been made. Such averments in a polity like ours with comparatively low literacy rate (and even some of the literate are also uneducated) can impair the credibility and reputation of a man in public life or holding high public office beyond repairs and redemption which are generally built up brick by brick over a period of time. These averments are also reproduced as under:
    "6. That, to bring home the point, certain important facts are being brought into the kind notice of this Hon'ble Court as follows: the petitioners are resident of Amethi, Chhatrapti Shahu Ji Mahraj Nagar, U.P., which falls in the parliamentary constituency of Amethi. The said constituency is being represented by the private opposite party no.6 in the Parliament of India.
    7.That, petitioner no.2 is a Congress worker in Amethi constituency. The private opposite party no.6 belongs to the Indian National Congress Party. Petitioner no.1 is daughter of the petitioner nos. 2 and 3.
    8.That, the next friend came to know from certain websites viz. Www.indybay.org, www.arizona.indymedia.org, which contain various news items including this one that in the night of 03.12.2006, while on tour of his parliamentary constituency of Amethi, the private opposite party no.6 committed rape on the petitioner no.1, along with six of his friends; two of them were of Italy and 4 were from Britain. Such news reports as published on different web sites are part of the Annexure No.2 herein."
4. Though headlines like 'corruption and scandals' are the regular high lights of the electronic and print media but still a large section of our population is honest and dedicated which alone has made the survival of our largest democracy possible through a difficult evolution process with unhealthy contradictions like the one as contained in the averments of writ petition as referred to herein above. Can our country with 120 crore population which seems to be living in the state of uneasy calm afford to provide level fields for cheap gimmicks players? If not, then should we not find out a solution so that those who are duly appointed or elected to high public offices after following the procedures as established by Law, be it Executive or Legislature or Judiciary, need not struggle in Courts or other fora just for their survival in the system. But now what we notice that instead of extending cooperation and support and providing conducive working environment to get optimal result out of the functioning of such authorities, people with vested interests start rubbing them all over till they are finished to fit in and disappear in the black hole of corruption. Today every process of selection or election starts with venom and ends in disdain. Thus now it is a high time that the legislature should think to bring a suitable legislation to protect the high public functionaries from being blackmailed by the black sheeps who are present inside and outside the system so that they feel secure in the course of discharge of their duties. Under these premises till the other organs of State ponder over to bring suitable measures/legislations etc. it would be expedient in the interest of justice that in the exercise of our powers under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, we take this matter to its logical conclusion by following the idea of the great political thinker and Roman philosopher Plato who has said that 'virtue can and must be taught'. In view of all the aforesaid and particularly for the reason that the writ petition No.111 (H/C) of 2011 was filed on the instructions of Kishor Samrite (who has also sworn the affidavit in support of the writ petition) which contained wild allegations/insinuation against Shri Rahul Gandhi and questions the virtue and modesty of a young girl of 22 years Km. Kirti Singh, we dismiss this writ petition with a cost of Rs. 50,00,000/- (Fifty lacs). Out of the cost amount, Rs. 25,00,000/- (Twenty five lacs) shall be paid to Km. Kirti Singh and Rs. 20,00,000/- (Twenty lacs) to Shri Rahul Gandhi , opposite party no.6. The cost amount shall be deposited within a period of one month with the Registrar of this Court, failing which, the Registrar shall take necessary action for recovery of the amount as land revenue. We also record our special note of appreciation for Shri Karamveer Singh, Director General of Police, U.P. (a highly decorated police officer), for producing the alleged detenues within the time frame as directed in the order. Thus, for all the promptness and sincerity shown, in the midst of serious law and order problems all over the State on account of some agitation, in obeying and complying with the directions, we direct payment of Rs. 5,00,000/- (five lacs) towards a reward to the DGP. We also record our appreciation for Shri Jyotindra Misra, learned Advocate General and the State Government for showing concern in this matter. We also direct the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, to register case against Kishor Samrite, the websites referred to in Writ Petition No.111 (H/C) of 2011, and all other persons who are found involved in the plot, if any, hatched in order to frame up Shri Rahul Gandhi , Member of Parliament from Amethi. We also appreciate Shri Gajendra Pal Singh, author of Writ Petition No.125 (H/C) of 2011 for approaching this Court in order to save the reputation of Shri Rahul Gandhi and the family of alleged detenues at the hands of vested interests responsible for filing Writ Petition No.111(H/C) of 2011. Till the investigation continues and the websites in question are not cleared by the CBI, their display in India shall remain banned. The Director, CBI, shall ensure compliance of this order forthwith. He shall also prepare a list of such other websites which are involved in display of scandalous informations about the functionaries holding high public offices and submit a report in respect thereof on the next date of hearing.
5. Thus, writ petition no.125 (H/C) of 2011 is partly disposed of to the extent insofar as it relates to production of the alleged detenues. However, it shall remain pending in respect of notice issued to the Registrar General, Allahabad High Court and for the submission of report by the CBI as directed herein above. The matter shall remain part heard. List the matter on 11.0 2011 for further hearing. The Registrar of this Court shall issue copy of this order to all the concerned parties including the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, for immediate compliance.
Petition Party Disposed Of.

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