The Bombay High Court observed that police officers must “change their attitude” and bear in mind that it is their duty to serve the public.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Bharati Dangre said it was the police’s duty to give a fair hearing to any person who makes a representation before any of its officials, irrespective of the former’s stature.
The bench also accepted an apology tendered by the commissioner of police, Navi Mumbai, for failing to comply with its earlier order in which the Navi Mumbai police was directed to look into the abrupt withdrawal of police protection to Sandip Kumar, the son of slain developer Sunil Kumar Loharia.
It directed the police that Kumar be granted protection until the conclusion of the trial in his father’s murder case that is currently going on in Thane sessions court.
Kumar had approached the high court through his counsel, Tanveer Nizam, earlier this year after the police protection provided to him was abruptly withdrawn, purportedly for want of payment of police protection dues – at the rate of Rs 1.80 lakh per month.
He had told the HC that he perceived threat to his life since the trial in his father’s murder case started and witnesses were being examined.
Last week, another bench led by Justice Gavai had rapped Hemant Nagrale, the Navi Mumbai commissioner of police after it was informed that he had refused to even meet Kumar despite his representation and a previous HC order.
Nizam told the HC that Kumar had approached the commissioner of police and the Navi Mumbai DCP on several occasions but the officials refused to give him a hearing.
When the commissioner did meet him briefly on one such occasion, he was extremely rude and refused to acknowledge the fact that there existed an HC order directing him to hear Kumar, Nizam said.
He also produced in court, a CD containing the transcript of the above conversation.
The commissioner of police, who was present, apologised to the court and also submitted an affidavit tendering his apology.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, who was appearing for the state government, told the bench, “While this is no justification, but the court might consider that the police officials are used to talking to several hardened criminals in a certain manner. Gradually, they begin to talk like that with others too.” “They (Police) must change their attitude then. The police have a duty towards the public. A person irrespective of his or her stature must be given a fair hearing,” the bench said.
Nizam also told the high court that Kumar’s father too had apprehended a threat to his life and had approached the high court seeking police protection.
According to his plea, while Loharia filed a petition on February 13, 2013 and it was scheduled for a hearing a week later, he was killed on February 16, before his plea could have been heard by the court.