The Madras High Court recently criticised the manner in which All Women Police Stations across the State were functioning. The court noted that in Tamil Nadu, the police stations were reduced to places of corruption where the authorities proceeded to side with powerful parties. The court lamented that these institutions which were introduced to contribute to the society were now reduced to shameless “kangaroo courts”.
“But in reality, today as lamented by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Arnesh Kumar, in Tamil Nadu, All Women Police Stations are reduced to stations of corruption and many times the despicable attitude of arrest first, and then proceed with the rest harassing either parties in matrimonial disputes depending on the money, muscle and power of the approaching parties is at alarming rise. It is disappointing to observe that an institution which has been introduced with great expectation to contribute towards the comity of the society has reduced itself into shameless Kangaroo Courts,” the court said.
Justice R Subramanian and Justice Victoria Gowri made these observations on a contempt petition filed by one K Janarthan alleging that the Inspector of All Women Police Station (Thilagar Thidal), Vimala, had arrested him without following the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar and Lalitha Kumari v Government of Uttar Pradesh and had thus committed contempt of court.
It was submitted that Janarthan’s wife had filed a complaint at the said police station alleging Janarthan and his family of committing domestic violence, dowry demand and abuse and thus committing offences under Sections 498A, 406, 417, 420, 506(1) IPC and 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 2002. Janarthan informed the court that the complaint was filed on June 23, 2022 and on the very following day Vimala served a notice under Section 41A of CrPC and arrested him without waiting to conduct a preliminary enquiry and thereafter remanded him to judicial custody.
Though Vimala denied all such allegations, the court noted that in the present case, the arrest was made at “lightning speed”. The court also noted that the arrest and all the procedures thereafter were done bypassing the specific directions made by the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar’s case. The court also wondered how the jurisdictional Magistrate authorised the detention casually. However, the court also noted that the Inspector had tendered unconditional apology at the earliest possible juncture.
“But in this case, we are of the considered view that, though the contemnor police has acted hastily, once this Court issued notice on her, without any delay, voluntarily and spontaneously an unconditional apology was tendered by her in her counter affidavit filed at the earliest point of time. Adding to her contrition on her appearance before this Court during the hearing of this case, her demeanour with moist eyes and humility grabbed attention,” the court noted.
With respect to the contempt proceeding, the court noted that a reading of Article 215 of the Constitution along with Section 10 and 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1971 would show that the High Court is empowered to punish for its own contempt or the contempt of the courts subordinate to it. Thus, the High court did not have powers to punish for contempt of courts superior to it.
“A discreet reading of Article 215 of the Constitution of India in consonance with Sections 10 and 11 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 would make it clear that these provisions would thwart the High Court from initiating contempt proceedings for the contempt of its superior Court like the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Thus as a Court of record, the High Court is attributed only with the power to punish for its contempt and the contempt of Courts Subordinate to it and not the Court which is superior to it,” the court observed.
The court however expressed its displeasure at the unethical arrest made by the police and warned the Inspector to not repeat such abominable conduct in the discharge of her duties as a police officer. The court thus directed the Inspector to equip the Police Station effectively. The court also directed the inspector to revive the family counselling unit with a qualified family counsellor, one social worker, one female lawyer, a doctor and a female psychologist and to resume the mobile counselling unit and conduct women empowerment camps and family counselling.
The court noted that though these police stations were launched with these facilities, presently, they were reduced to shambles and units of corruption. The court also directed the State DGP to implement the directions in all 222 Women Police Stations across the State by the Department of Home, State of Tamil Nadu, as a part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the State Police’s Women’s Wing which is going on in this year of 2023.
Case Title: K Janarthan v Mrs Vimala
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 179
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.K.P.S.Palanivel Rajan Senior Counsel for Mr.K.Prabhakaran
Counsel for the Contemnor: Mr.P.Veera Kathiravan Additional Advocate General Assisted by Mr.S.Ravi Additional Public Prosecutor and Mr.P.Veerenthiran Government Advocate (Crl. Side)