Karnataka Court denies anticipatory bail to Police Sub-Inspector who forced Dalit man to drink urine in Police custody

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A Karnataka Court on Tuesday denied anticipatory bail to a suspended Police Sub-Inspector for forcing a 22-year-old belonging to a scheduled caste community to drink urine while in police custody.

While denying anticipatory bail to K Arjun Horakeri of the Gonibeedu police station, Chikmagalur's first Additional District Court observed that the incident was "most heinous" such an atrocious act destroys and affects the dignity of a person.

"The alleged nature of incident is most heinous in nature. Not only the victim has been urinated upon, but he has been made to lick the urine from the floor. Such an act of atrocity destroys the personal dignity of any person. Personal dignity is one's inner feelings and attitudes of self-love, self-care, self-esteem, and self-appreciation. It's the way one thinks and feels about himself," the order stated.

The Court also rejected the submissions made by Arjun Horakeri concerning the delay in filing the complaint.

"A person, who has suffered this kind of alleged atrocity would be in utter shock and definitely would not normally be in a position to disclose the incident to any one or seek redressal of the same," it observed.

Barely concealing its shock over the alleged trail of events, Judge KL Ashok further remarked,

"This is not the way a police officer is expected to act. A police officer is the custodian of the public trust and faith. He is expected to protect the innocent."

KL Punith, the victim in this case, had lodged a complaint against Horakeri, as the latter had forced him to drink urine in police custody when he had asked for water. It was further alleged that the victim was humiliated and ill treated in police custody.

This prompted the 22-year-old to write to the officials, demanding action against the sub-inspector. Subsequently, a first information report (FIR) was registered against Arjun Horakeri in Gonibeedu Police Station, Chikkamagaluru. Following the case, Horakeri was also placed under suspension.

Fearing arrest, the sub-inspector filed an application seeking anticipatory bail in the matter before Chikmagalur's first Additional District Court.

The counsel for the sub-inspector argued that there is inordinate delay in lodging the complaint. Thus, according to him, the case itself is doubtful and the delay itself establishes that there is no prima facie case.

When the matter came up before the Court on Friday, the State government opposed Horakeri's plea for anticipatory bail, contending that the sub-inspector is in a position to influence the police department if the protection sought for is granted.

“He is politically and economically powerful and may abuse the prospect of bail and destroy the prosecution's evidence. Again, there is a possibility of serious act against the plaintiff (KL Punith of Kirigunda village) and his family. Therefore, the applicant is not entitled to bail for any reason," the Court recorded the State as having submitted.

It was further argued that the suspended police officer's anticipatory bail application must be dismissed because of the social implications of the case, given that the Horakeri has been accused of unfair and inhumane treatment against the victim.

Further, referring to various judgments passed by the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court, as well as based on the Section 18 (2) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act), the Public prosecutor urged the Court to dismiss the anticipatory bail application.

Concerns such as the likelihood of the offense being repeated by the accused as well as witnesses being influenced, if the accused is granted anticipatory bail, were also raised by the State government.

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