SC restores activist's honour after 20 yrs
For twenty years, an ayurvedic doctor and social activist in Chhattisgarh, Mehmood Nayyar Azam, suffered torture and public humiliation at the hands of police in the undivided state of Madhya Pradesh. He was arrested in a false case of electricity theft in 1992.
Azam’s fault: He actively campaigned against exploitation of people by coal mafia and corrupt police
On Friday, the Supreme Court, delivered justice to Azam. The apex court, in a judgment on his appeal, rebuked the police officials concerned, stating that “some megalomaniac police officers” behaved as if they were the “law” and not its protectors. The court awarded a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Azam and directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover the amount from the erring police officials in equal proportion, in six weeks.
The court said the compensation was due to the doctor for the inhuman treatment and social humiliation he suffered at the hands of the police. The police, after arresting Azam, had photographed him with a self-incriminating placard that said he was a “thief and cheat.” Banners with the photograph were then put up in all public places to humiliate Azam and ruin his social and family life.
Delivering the judgment, a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra lambasted the police for photographing Azam in 1992 with the placard, in a false case of electricity theft.
“We are really concerned how in a country governed by rule of law and where Article 21 of the Constitution is treated to be sacred, the dignity and social reputation of a citizen has been affected,” the court said. “The inhuman treatment can be well visualised when the appellant came out from custody and witnessed his photograph being circulated with the self-condemning words written on it.
This withers away the very essence of life as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court said.
Azam had approached the apex court after the state government refused to entertain his plea for compensation on the basis of a Chhattisgarh High Court judgment that upheld his plea against the police tormentors. Azam was abused at the Pondi police station West Chirmiri Colliery on September 24, 1992, at the behest of “powerful coal mafia and trade union leaders.”
“It is luculent that the appellant had undergone mental torture at the hands of insensible police officials. He might have agitated to ameliorate the cause of the poor and the downtrodden, but, the social humiliation that has been meted to him is quite capable of destroying the heart of his philosophy,” the court said.