Taking serious view of the Punjab police acting in “barbaric manner” by assaulting a woman in Tarn Taran on March 3 and later “pressurize the petitioners to succumb” to withdraw the complaint, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday ordered immediate transfer of seven cops involved in the incident.
The petition filed by Harbrinder Kaur (victim) and her five relatives, came up for hearing before the bench headed by justice Ranjit Singh, which, while issuing notice directed the state government to file its reply to the court on Tuesday.
Justice Ranjit Singh directed the inspector general (IG) of police, Amritsar range to provide protection to the petitioners on Monday itself and directed the state counsel to have instructions from the authorities to provide security to petitioners’ family from “central force and not from police of the state of Punjab.” In the meantime, the court ordered the IG Chandigarh to provide adequate security to the petitioners for a day who shall remain with them till Tuesday, when some alternative arrangements shall be made.
IG Amritsar range has also been directed to ensure that senior superintendent of police (SSP) or any police officer does not approach the petitioners for “any purpose whatsoever”.
Those who have been directed to be transferred out of Tarn Taran district within 24 hours include assistant sub-inspector Narinder Singh, head constable Ashwani Kumar and Paramjit Singh of police station city Tarn Taran. Others include head constables Harjinder Singh and Davinder Kumar; Tarsem Singh and Gurdeep Raj (designations not known).
In his strongly worded order, justice Singh said, “The police cannot be permitted to act in this high handed way. Once the Hon’ble supreme court has taken notice of the incident, the action by the police is an interference in the cause of justice.”
The order further read, “First the police has acted in this barbaric manner. Now they have made the life of the petitioners miserable.”
The court observed, “Since the allegations are being made against the SSP Tarn Taran who is alleged to have made an offer of Rs. 5 lakh to compromise the case, it would be appropriate to issue direction to some senior officer to ensure protection and the compliance of those order…”
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate GS Sidhu pleaded probe by an independent agency, providing protection to them while stating that they were being threatened and pressurized to withdraw the complaint and action against cops for blatant violation of human rights and outraging modesty of woman in full public view.
Harbrinder was present in the court on Monday with her father and relatives.
The court said that since the Supreme Court had taken prima facie notice of the incident, “the reaction by the police obviously would be to pressurize the petitioners to succumb and compromise which the police then would wish to place before the Hon’ble supreme court to get out of this tight situation.”
If the court orders are not complied with, the high court made it clear that the IG Amritsar range would have to given explanation in the court.
After incident’s video recording was flashed on news channels on March 4, the role of Tarn Taran police had come under scanner. Harbrinder Kaur had alleged that a taxi driver had misbehaved with her outside a marriage palace. When she narrated the incident to her father and brother, a scuffle took between them and the taxi driver. However, when the cops reached the spot, rather than intervening, they started slapping and hitting her and family members with lathis.