The Gujarat High Court on Monday slapped a cost of Rs 10,000 each on five policemen for not being able to settle a dispute on time with a complainant who had moved a petition alleging custodial torture and seeking action against them for contempt of court.
The division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri observed that the case was fit for framing of charges against the five policemen under Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
The court is hearing a petition moved by one Ajay Boricha against officials of a police station in Rajkot city for violating Supreme Court guidelines on custodial violence by allegedly subjecting him to torture and also parading him in public after his arrest in cases of rioting and bootlegging in 2016.
It said the respondents had, during the last hearing, expressed a desire to settle the dispute with the complainant, after which the court granted them time and deferred the framing of charges.
When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, the respondent police officers said that they have not yet been able to establish contact with the complainant, who is currently lodged in a jail in Bharuch, for settling the dispute.
The court expressed surprise that a policeman cannot contact a person lodged in a jail, and said it was not inclined to grant them any more time for framing of charges. It then agreed to grant them more time but only when they paid a cost of Rs 25,000 each.
The lawyer for the respondents argued the money was too much for policemen in the rank of constables and sub inspectors, and agreed to pay Rs 10,000 instead.
“It is further undertaken that the cost of Rs 10,000 by each of the accused be deposited to this court within three days from today. It is also made clear on no ground whatsoever further adjournment will be granted, and in the event of dispute between the parties as agreed to be settled is not reported, the charge shall be framed on the same date,” it said.
The court kept the matter for further hearing on January 17.
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