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Posted at: Sep 16, 2019, 10:43 PM; last updated: Sep 16, 2019, 10:43 PM (IST)

Abohar firing: 30 years on, HC says police were negligent, orders relief

Abohar firing: 30 years on, HC says police were negligent, orders relief
Photo for representation.

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 16

Nearly three decades after eight persons were killed and 18 others injured in police firing following dharna by mill workers at Abohar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the police were negligent in discharge of their duties and firing of bullets without authority of law was not within the ambit of official duty. 

The Bench also modified conviction of three accused police officers from murder to culpable homicide and suo motu ordered compensation ranging between Rs 2 and Rs 3 lakh for the kin of the deceased.

The Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Harinder Singh Sidhu asserted the firing on the workmen led to eight deaths and numerous persons were injured. The workmen have right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, but it was infringed by the police by using excessive force in an unreasonable and unauthorised manner.

The firing on unarmed peaceful gathering of workers also violated their human rights. “The authorities are accountable for their failure to protect right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution… It is the duty of the police to ensure that their acts do not harm others by acting negligently.”

The Bench added the labourers were employees of Bhawani Cotton Mill, Abohar. Their annual income in 1991 after making deductions would come to Rs 24,000. Though disability certificates of the labourers suffering injuries was not available on record, the court added it could take judicial notice of the fact that their earning capacity was bound to reduce following injuries from high velocity projectile bullets.

The Bench further added their average age in 1991 was 30 to 40 years. Each of the injured workmen would be entitled to compensation of Rs 1,08,000 with 9 per cent per annum interest from the October 25, 1991, the date of incident.

The Bench added the appellant-police officials may not have the intention to cause death of the labourers, but they knew that firing at an unarmed mob would result in deaths. As such conviction of the appellants under Section 302 was converted to Section 304-II of the IPC.

“The State is directed to produce appellants (former police officials) Hardam Singh, Piara Singh and Harcharan Singh before the High Court on September 26 to be heard on quantum of sentence under Section 304 Part-II read with Section 149 IPC,” the Bench added.

 

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