Police to pay Rs 2L for arresting accused's namesake

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What's in a name? Only his name was enough to attract the police action against Ramani Kalita, a staff in Assam's industry department for a crime allegedly committed by his namesake working in the same department. 

More than 14 years after Kalita was arrested and put into judicial custody for 15-days for no fault of his own, Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ordered Satyajit Borah, a sub-inspector of police posted in Chandmari police station in Guwahati to pay Rs. 2 lakh as compensation to Kalita, to be deducted from the policeman's salary account in 20 equal installments.

A statement issued by the commission on Wednesday said Kalita was arrested in 2005 in connection with a case registered at Dispur police station and was remanded to judicial custody for 15 days even as he told police that he had committed no crime and the case must have been registered against his colleague having the same name. Borah did not listen to Kalita and arrested him in connection with a non-bailable arrest warrant, which did not have other details like age, father's name, address or occupation.

"The Commission opined that the charged officer is proved to be guilty of callousness, negligence, recklessness, arbitrariness, and non-application of mind in the execution of such a vague arrest warrant. At the most, he could have detained the complainant at the police station for some time without producing him before the learned additional chief judicial magistrate, Kamrup so as to enable him to verify his identity from the informant of the FIR. Unfortunately, such exercise was undertaken only after the complainant had already languished in jail for some time. He need not have executed the arrest warrant on the ground of lack of particulars in the description of the complainant and he should have, instead, returned it to the issuing magistrate with a prayer to furnish better particulars for easy identification of the accused," said the statement.

The order was issued by a bench comprising chairman of the commission, Justice T Vaiphei and two members, NK Bora and DK Saikia. "Under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, a person cannot be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in accordance with the procedure laid down by law. The complainant was deprived of his personal liberty for fifteen days due to avoidable mistaken identity," it said.

The bench said it was, however, open to the state government to initiate a departmental inquiry for major punishment against the charged officer in lieu of payment of compensation to Kalita.

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