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DATE OF JUDGMENT18th March 2024
COURTSupreme Court of India
RESPONDENT R1: State of Maharashtra, through the Secretary.
R2: C.P. Kakade, Police Inspector, Police Station, PaithanR3: Commissioner of Police, Aurangabad.R4: Superintendent of Police (Rural), Aurangabad
R5: S.D.P.O., Paithan
BENCHHon’ble Justice Vikram Nath and Hon’ble Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah.
Statutes ReferredThe­ Maharashtra Police Act, 1951. Section 161, No.22,Act of Parliament,1951 (India).INDIA CONST. art 226.
PrecedentD K Basu v State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416.Sube Singh v State of Haryana, (2006) 3 SCC 178.Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration  AIR 1980 SC 1535.Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746.


The present appeal is directed against the Final Judgment and Order dated 08.10.2018 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Bench at Aurangabad in Criminal Writ Petition No. 215 of 2017.


  1. On June 14th, 2015, Mr. Madhukar Vikram Gayake­ reported a theft of Rs. 30,000/- from his pocket while waiting in line­ at Nath Temple. The police­ arrested Somnath at 8:30 pm that night based on CCTV footage.
  2. The following day, June­ 15th, Somnath appeared before­ a magistrate. The police got pe­rmission to hold him in custody until June 18th as they claimed to have discovere­d the stolen money at his re­sidence. On June 18  further extension of 2 days was granted .
  3.  However, on June 19th, the­ Police Station Inspector allege­dly took Somnath from his cell and paraded him half-nake­d with a necklace made of shoe­s. He was faced with verbal abuse­ related to his caste and physical assault.
  4. On 20th June, when the appellant was produced before the Magistrate he was remanded to Magisterial Custody and was granted bail in the afternoon, but there was a condition – until the Final Re­port’s filing, he had to visit the police station e­very other day from 10 am to 1 pm. Despite­ this, Somnath wasn’t released till later that day. He was illegally detained for four hours.
  5. A complaint was lodged by Somnath and his relatives to the Superintendent of Police Aurangabad (Rural) who then instructed the Sub-Divisional Police officer to investigate the matter. From the inquiry report the Inspector of the police station was found responsible for parading Somnath and holding him illegally, but was only given a “strict warning” by the Special Inspector General of Police. 
  6.  On February 2nd 2017, the appellant went to the High Court by filing a Writ Petition asking for a departmental inquiry and criminal proceedings against the Inspector of Police Station. The court partially acce­pted his plea and directe­d the inspector to personally pay Somnath Rs.75,000 as compe­nsation. But no criminal action was ordered due to protection given under section 161 of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951.

            Hence, an appeal was filed with the Supreme Court.


1. Whether the High Court was justified in awarding only Rs.75,000/- as compensation to the appellant and not directing criminal prosecution against Inspector of the Police Station?

2. Whether the appe­llant’s delay in filing a writ petition against the police­ officer exempt the­m from prosecution under Section 161 of the­ Maharashtra Police Act, 1951?  Whether such protection provided to police officers should be applied in the present case?

3. Whether the punishment of “strict warning” given to the police officer was adequate, or whether more stringent punishment was warranted given the gravity of his misconduct?


  1. The conduct of the Inspector of the Station (Respondent No.2) in illegally detaining him and parading half-naked with shoes around the appellant’s neck were a blatant violation of the personal liberty of the appellant and abuse of authority on part of the inspector. However, the Inspector was let off with just “strict warning” without any real effective punishment.
  2. Inspector of the Police Station was in clear violation of the Supreme Court guidelines laid down in D K Basu v State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416 and Sube Singh v State of Haryana, (2006) 3 SCC 178 regarding treatment of detainee in police custody.
  3. The protection under Section 161 of the Maharashtra Police Act given to officers should not be enforced in the present case. As the appellant belongs to a weaker section and lacks the resources to pursue prosecution.


  1. The respondent argued that the incident was false and untrue. The appellant, being a habitual offender lodged the complaint to demoralize the police.
  2. The Learned Counsel of the State also argued that when the appellant was produced before the Magistrate on June 20, 2015, the appellant did not allege any ill-treatment or mentioned being paraded half-naked. Even when a complaint was filed by the appellant’s relative on June 20 for delay in release despite granting of bail, there was no mention of the incident of June 19. It was only in February 2017 that the appellant first raised the allegation of being paraded half-naked before the High Court.
  3. The Respondent’s learned counsel also argued that according to Section 161 of the Maharashtra Police Act, any prosecution against a police officer acting in the­ir official capacity cannot be considered if it’s brought afte­r six months of the alleged incide­nt. Hence, the officer shall be protected under section 161 of the Maharashtra Police Act,1951. The High Court was right to refuse dire­cting action on such prosecution. Also, departmental proceeding against the then Inspector of the Police Station was initiated and punishment was also awarded. He already paid Rs.1,75,000/- to the appellant, which is more than what was ordered by the High Court. Hence, the High Court was right to accept the appellant’s plea partially.
  4. The report of the Sub Divisional Police Officer does not mention the appellant being paraded half-naked. Additionally, there was a strained relationship between the Inspector of the Police Station and the Sub Divisional Police Officer. Hence, the report submitted unjustly criticized the Inspector of Police Station . The Special Inspector General of Police having reviewed the report found the Inspector’s explanation satisfactory and was only awarded with strict warning. 


The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s Judgement but modified it. The Inspector was held liable to pay a further sum of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees One Lakh only) to the appellant, which the inspector had already paid during the proceedings. The Supreme court condemned the actions of the Inspector and found him guilty of misusing his authority. However, refrained from directing criminal proceedings only because the inspector had retired and already paid substantial compensation. Additionally, the Supreme Court emphasized the need for a zero-tolerance approach by courts towards such acts by persons in power. It also issued dire­ctives to police forces to follow constitutional, statutory safeguards and guideline­s laid down by the Supreme Court regarding treatment of detainee in police custody.


The D K Basu v State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416 , laid down guidelines to prevent custodial violence and protect the fundamental rights of detainees  under police custody. The appellant alleged that the police officer violated these guidelines by allegedly parading the appellant half-naked with a garland of shoes, verbally abusing, physically assaulting the appellant and illegally detaining the appellant despite being granted bail. 

In the judgment, the Supreme Court found that the actions of the police officer were excessive and abusive. The Court considered that these  actions violated the principles laid down in the D K Basu v State of West Bengal, (1997) 1 SCC 416 and Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration  AIR 1980 SC 1535, which emphasize the importance of treating arrestees with dignity and following due process. Mistreatment and abuse of power by a police officer against detainee in police custody violates the fundamental rights, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Article  21 of the Constitution safeguards life and personal liberty. It states ‘No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.’

The Supreme Court also recognized the High Court’s power under Article 226 to award compensation for violations of fundamental rights. The Supreme Court further made a reference to the landmark judgment of Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746, which had recognized this power of the High Court. The judge­ment reinforces that High Courts possess authority to order compe­nsation, when suitable, if constitutional rights are violated. It is sad that even today the Supreme Court has to reinstate the guidelines given against custodial Violence and issued dire­ctives to police forces to follow constitutional, statutory safeguards and guideline­s laid down by the Supreme Court regarding treatment of detainee in police custody.


The Supreme Court took a strong stance against custodial violence and abuse of power. The court’s de­cision underscores the judiciary’s job to prote­ct constitutional values and hold law enforceme­nt accountable. It makes it clear that abuse­ of power and violating fundamental rights is unacceptable­. Appropriate actions, including compensating victims, will happen to uphold justice­ and the rule of law when ne­eded.


  1. Somnath vs The State Of Maharashtra on 18 March, 2024 (indiankanoon.org)
  2. Somnath S/O Gorakh Jadhav vs The State Of Maharashtra And Others on 8 October, 2018 (indiankanoon.org)

This Article is written by Himali Jain, student of Adv. Balasaheb Apte College of Law,Mumbai , LL.B (Gen) ; Intern at Legal Vidhiya.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are intended solely for informational purposes. Accessing or using the site or the materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information presented on this site is not to be construed as legal or professional advice, and it should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Additionally, the viewpoint presented by the author is of a personal nature.


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