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Accused and undertrial prisoners cannot normally be handcuffed: Karnataka HC

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Accused and undertrial prisoners cannot normally be handcuffed: Karnataka HC
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Handcuffing of an accused person can be resorted to only in extreme circumstances, the Karnataka High Court recently held. Justice Suraj Govindaraj said that a person arrested cannot normally be handcuffed, reported Bar and Bench.

“An accused who is arrested can normally not be handcuffed. It is only under extreme circumstances that handcuffing of an accused can be resorted to,” read the order.

The judge additionally stated that when such handcuffing occurs, the arresting officer must document the justifications, which must withstand the court’s scrutiny.

The Karnataka HC subsequently ordered the state to pay the petitioner, who claimed illegal handcuffing, loss of reputation, and illegal detention even before he was proven guilty, 2 lakh as compensation.

Relevantly, the court directed that body cameras with mouthpieces ought to be made accessible to all cops qualified to capture an individual, so the way of capture is recorded by such cameras.

The court also made the following rulings regarding the handcuffing of convicts, according to the legal website Bar and Bench.

“No person whether he be an accused, under trial prisoner or convict shall be handcuffed unless the reason for the same is recorded in the case dairy and/or the relevant record as to why such a person is required to be handcuffed.”

“If any accused or under trial prisoner is produced before a court after arrest, it shall be the duty of the court to, among other things, inquire as to whether the said person had been handcuffed or not. If the person responds in the affirmative, the court would have to ascertain the reasons for such handcuffing and to decide on the validity or otherwise of such handcuffing.”

“The trial Court shall endeavor as far as possible to avoid physical appearance of the under trial prisoner and permit the under trial prisoner to appear through video conferencing. Only in the event of the court being of the opinion that the physical presence of the accused is required in court, then the court could direct for such physical presence by a reasoned order.”

“As far as possible, permission to handcuff an under trial prisoner would have to be taken prior to the production of the under trial prisoner before the court and obtain an order for handcuffing from the said court. If no such permission is applied for and under trial prisoners were to be handcuffed, the concerned police officer would be taking a risk of such handcuffing being declared illegal and action being taken against them.”

“The contention of the learned High Court Government Pleader (HCGP) that the handcuffing of the petitioner was resorted to since there were not enough police personnel to safeguard and prevent the escape if any is no excuse at all. It is for the State to equip all police stations with adequate and necessary police personnel required for the purpose of discharge of the duties and obligations of the State.”

The petitioner, a law student, had requested compensation in the amount of Rs. 25 lakh after being detained in connection with criminal cases brought against him under the Negotiable Instruments Act.

He also claimed that the police paraded him through a market while he was in handcuffs, damaging his reputation and going against his Fundamental rights.

The single-judge placed reliance on a judgment of the Bombay High Court in Shri Kisan v State of Maharashtra wherein it was opined that the principle of strict liability principle should be applied for unnecessary handcuffing of an accused.

In this way, the court observed that cuffing possibly be assuming there was plausible of the blamed or under preliminary detainee getting away from care, hurting himself or others, Bar and Bench reported.

“The nature of offenses and the punishment prescribed for the said offense are not relevant for the matter of handcuffing,” the court held.

In this instance, the court also found that the arresting officer had violated the law, making the petitioner entitled to compensation.

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