The state has been ordered to compensate man, who was wrongly accused of involvement in the illicit liquor trade due to a case of mistaken identity: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Title: Kulwinder Singh v. State of Punjab

Citation: CRM-M-50091-2023

Decided on: 09.10.2023

Coram: Justice Arun Monga


The Punjab & Haryana High Court has instructed the State of Punjab to provide compensation to a man who has an 80% locomotion disability. He was wrongly accused of involvement in a case related to the Punjab Excise Act, 1914, where he was alleged to have fled with illegal liquor in his vehicle due to a case of “mistaken identity.” The Court also expressed astonishment that despite the individual filing an anticipatory bail petition in September, which contained information known to both the police and the Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP), there was no effort made to verify the petitioner’s identity or his significant disability, as he is wheelchair-bound.

Facts of the case

The petitioner, who was implicated as one of the suspects, attempted to escape when the police officials tried to apprehend him during a surprise inspection of the vehicle he was traveling in. This vehicle was found to contain a significant amount of liquor in violation of the Punjab Excise Act, 1914. As a result, an FIR was filed against several individuals, including the petitioner, under sections 61, 78(2) of the Punjab Excise Act, and sections 420, 467, 468, 471, read with 120B of the IPC, based on a complaint filed by ASI Sartaj Singh. It was alleged that the petitioner, who is classified as an absconding suspect, is afflicted by Post-Polio Residual Paralysis in his lower limbs. This condition renders him unable to stand, walk, or run independently, as he is wheelchair-bound due to his 80% permanent disability. The petitioner has approached the court to express dissatisfaction with the subpar investigation and the alleged misconduct of the police officer.

Court’s observation and analysis

The Court took note that both SHO Ms. Manjeet Kaur and ASI Sartaj Singh were present in court and had offered their unconditional apologies for the mistake that occurred in the case due to the misidentification of the petitioner. However, the court observed that their belated apology, made at this stage, appeared to be an attempt to protect themselves from the negative consequences that could have been anticipated when the original order was issued.

The Court found it difficult to comprehend why, when the petitioner had filed an anticipatory bail petition in September, and all the relevant information was fully known to the police officials and the Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP), no effort was made to verify the petitioner’s identity or his significant disability, as he is 80% incapacitated and confined to a wheelchair.

Further, the court opined that the petitioner was put a question as to why the said DDR was not handed over to learned Sessions Court, when the matter was being heard in Court on the same very day and, if the same was not possible, why the Court was not verbally informed that petitionerhad already been found innocent so as to render the anticipatory bail petition infructuous on that ground alone, instead of being dismissed on merits, the ASI states that he had though informed the Court but notice of the same was not taken thereof by learned Sessions Judge sized of the matter.

Given the circumstances mentioned above, the Court ordered the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) to personally examine the case and delegate the investigation to another police officer of a rank no lower than Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).

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Written by- Amrita Rout

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