On March 16, 2021, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the District and Sessions Judge in Faridabad to conduct an investigation into Shiv Kumar’s charges of illegal detention and torture while in custody. Justice Avneesh Jhingan’s bench has asked all parties involved to comply entirely with the Sessions Judge so that the inquiry report can be submitted as soon as possible.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by the father of labour Activist Shiv Kumar under Section 482 of the Indian Penal Code, demanding that the investigation of three separate FIRs filed against Kumar under different serious sections of the IPC be transferred to an independent agency.
On March 4, 2021 labour activist Shiv Kumar, who is a friend of Dalit Labour Activist Nodeep Kaur, was granted bail in all three cases filed against him by a local court in Sonipat District (Haryana).On February 26, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted Nodeep Kaur bail in the third FIR filed against her.
On January 12, 2021, Shiv Kumar and Nodeep Kaur were both arrested after their protest against the alleged harassment of factory employees in Sonepat’s Kundli Industrial Area turned violent. Both of them are identified in three FIRs filed in connection with the incident on January 12, 2021, which include charges of attempted murder, robbery, and extortion.
A direction was also sought for an impartial investigation into Shiv Kumar’s unlawful arrest and torture, as well as a medical examination of Shiv Kumar. On February 19, 2021, the Court released a notice of motion and ordered Shiv Kumar to undergo a medical examination.
A report dated February 22, 2021, was produced on February 24, 2021, along with a response by way of an affidavit from Satvinder Kumar, Superintendent, District Jail, Sonipat.
The petitioner’s senior counsel argued before the Court that a comparison of the initial MLR and the subsequent MLR report dated February 22, 2021, spoke for itself, and thus an appeal was made for an inquiry to be ordered and the investigation to have stayed in the meantime. The State Government submitted that the investigation of the FIRs was turned over to the Special Investigation Team.
The Court observed that an investigation is required without commenting on the comparison of two sets of medical records, lest it affects any further proceedings or investigation. The Court did, however, make the following observation:
Fundamental Rights are discussed in Section III of the Indian Constitution. Article 21 ensures that life and personal liberties are protected. No one’s life or liberty can be taken away except as per the procedure established by law. There can’t even be thought about compromising a citizen’s life and liberty in a democratic setup.
“However, as there may be an instance where the conclusion reached by the SIT and inquiry report with regard to two sets of medical reports may cast a shadow on each other,” the Court added, that there is nothing before the Court to cast doubt on the investigation being conducted by the SIT. In light of this, the Court ordered the District and Sessions Judge currently stationed in Faridabad to conduct an investigation into Shiv Kumar’s allegations of wrongful detention and custodial torture.
Meanwhile, SIT has been granted permission to continue its investigation, but it has been told not to submit its final report without seeking permission from this Court.
The matter has been rescheduled for a hearing on the 11th of May, 2021, in order to submit a status report.