HC seeks police stand on plea for contempt action against officer

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the city police on a plea seeking contempt action against one of its officers for arresting a woman lawyer from Punjab in connection with a matrimonial case, without allegedly following the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the police and sought its stand on the woman's plea, which claims that she and her mother were arrested by the Delhi Police without any notice and permission of the courts in Punjab.

The police told the court that the arrests were made in 2018 and therefore, the plea seeking contempt action was barred by time.

It also told the court that a departmental enquiry has been initiated and a show-cause notice issued to the erring officer, who made the arrests.

The submission on behalf of the police was opposed by the petitioner-lawyer, who has claimed that not only were the arrests illegal, the police failed to take any departmental action against the erring officer(s) and as no departmental enquiry was initiated till she filed the petition, it gave rise to a continuing cause of action and therefore, her plea was not barred by time.

The court agreed with the petitioner's contention, saying 'in view of the fact that no departmental enquiry was earlier initiated and has now been initiated after the filing of the present petition, the time bar under section 20 of the Contempt of Court Act would not come to the rescue of the respondents (police) and it would give rise to a continuing cause of action to the petitioner (woman lawyer) to file the petition'. It directed the police to file an affidavit on record with regard to the action initiated and the officer against whom it has been initiated and listed the matter for further hearing on February 25, 2021.

The woman, in her plea, has claimed that her and her mother's arrest was 'ex-facie arbitrary, perverse and illegal, being devoid of due legal procedure and in violation of the principles of natural justice', causing grave injustice to them.

She has contended that there was a matrimonial row between her brother and his wife, who in turn lodged a complaint with the Crime Against Women (CAW) cell against her in-laws.

The police, without carrying out any preliminary investigation regarding the complaint, lodged an FIR and then proceeded to Punjab to arrest the petitioner and her mother, the petition has alleged.

The petition has also alleged that no woman officer was part of the team that arrested the two women from Punjab, detained them there for eight hours and then brought them to Delhi. PTI HMP RC