HC directs DGP to take action against Inspector involved in ‘katta panchayat’

Only the judiciary must resolve civil disputes and not the police, says judge

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Director General of Police to initiate departmental proceedings against an Inspector of Police of the District Crime Branch in Pudukkottai district, after taking a serious note of the fact that the Inspector was involved in a ‘katta panchayat.’

Justice R. Hemalatha observed that the function of resolving civil disputes was entrusted to the judiciary and not to police officers. The courts have time and again deprecated the initiation of false criminal proceedings in cases having elements of a civil dispute, the judge said.

The court was hearing the petition filed by L.N. Nithyanantham of Pudukkottai. He said the Pudukkottai police were harassing him and trying to enforce a pre-drafted compromise deed. He sought a direction to the police and the subordinate officers not to harass him. It was said that the police were acting on a false complaint lodged against him.

The petitioner had borrowed money from a doctor, S. Ramadoss, to meet family and business expenses. Under these circumstances, Ramadoss lodged a complaint against the petitioner alleging that the latter had received a sum of ₹1.5 crore from him to secure a job for his daughter-in-law.

Based on this complaint, the petitioner said that the police were harassing him and he was also forced to sign a compromise deed which was pre-drafted to suit the convenience of the doctor. He said he was constantly harassed by the police and asked to pay the money mentioned in the deed.

A representation to the Superintendent of police also did not evoke any response, he said. Taking a serious view, the court observed that no person can be forcibly summoned to a police station except in accordance with law. The court has examined the illegal and high-handed act of the Inspector, the judge said.

The court quashed the compromise deed and directed the DGP to initiate departmental proceedings against Inspector Anitha Arockiya Mary.

The court said quick relief offered by a criminal prosecution as opposed to a civil dispute incentivises the litigant to initiate false and vexatious proceedings. Moreover, in a country suffering the scourge of the world’s largest backlog of cases, litigants often view criminal proceedings as a tool to pressurise and threaten the other party to enter a favourable settlement. It is shameful that law enforcers had become law unto themselves, crossing their boundaries, knowing fully well that they had no business to intervene.

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