Kheda public flogging: Gujarat HC sentences cops to 14-day jail term
Police officers AV Parmar, DB Kumavat, Laxmansinh Kanaksinh Dabhi, and Rajubhai Dabhi have been allowed three months to file an appeal before their sentence is enforced
Gujarat High Court on Thursday sentenced four police officials to a 14-day jail term and imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 each for their involvement in the flogging of several Muslim citizens in Kheda district over a year ago.
However, acting on a plea from the defence, the court suspended the execution of the sentence for three months, allowing the convicts time to appeal.
Upon directing a detailed inquiry, the High Court initiated contempt proceedings against four police officials identified as AV Parmar, DB Kumavat, Laxmansinh Kanaksinh Dabhi, and Rajubhai Dabhi.
The court's final judgment requires that the convicted police officials report to the judicial registrar of the high court within a 10-day period following the receipt of the order.
The sentence, as aforementioned, is presently stayed for a period of three months to allow for an appeal.
A division bench comprising Justices A.S. Supehia and Gita Gopi denounced the act as "inhumane" and a stark violation of human rights. Justice Supehia, in a parting comment, expressed the court's dismay, noting its reluctance in having to incarcerate law enforcement officers.
In their judgment, the justices emphasised the inherent right to life and dignity, even when someone is under arrest. Drawing upon the words of Mother Teresa, the bench observed that human rights aren't a governmental privilege but an innate human entitlement.
They further held that the police officers had blatantly disregarded the human rights of the complainants, behaving as though they had a sanctioned prerogative to do so, and cautioned that those entrusted with upholding law and order must not compromise civil liberties.
The case stems from an incident on 3 October 2022, when a sizeable crowd allegedly disrupted a religious event in Undhela village of Kheda dictrict.
Subsequently, videos emerged showing police officers publicly beating several men, an act that drew widespread condemnation. Five victims, alleging excessive police force and illegal detention, petitioned Gujarat High Court, referencing a landmark Supreme Court judgment that outlines guidelines for police conduct during arrests and detentions. They further sought compensation for the infringement of their rights.