High Court grants compensation to mother-son duo for illegal detention

Jun 13, 2013, 17:08 IST | A correspondent

The Bombay High Court on Thursday awarded compensation to the tune of Rs 6 lakh to a 78-year-old mother and her son.

The two were ‘misled’ by the Vashi police and illegally detained for several days as the mother threatened to commit suicide after her grievances against her grandchildren were not looked into by the police. The grandchildren, who are ‘influential’, have been trying to usurp her property for some time now. 

The petitioner, a widow, Mohini Kamwani, hails from Vashi, where she takes care of her mentally-handicapped daughter, Kanta. Her son Dilip left his job in Dubai to take care of his aging mother. Dilip has valiantly fought his mother’s case since last year. Mohini’s husband was a freedom fighter who had been jailed during the freedom movement.

Her other daughter, Sunti, is married with three sons; a Dubai-based doctor, a Chartered Accountant and a businessman. In her petition Mohini alleged that in 2010, one of the grandsons, Manoj tried to forcibly obtain her signatures to usurp her property.

On December 24, 2010, Mohini approached the Vashi police station to have an FIR lodged against Manoj. Instead, police registered an NC. The case was later closed after police concluded the matter was of a ‘civil’ nature.

Encouraged by police apathy, the grandsons allegedly began to demand ownership of her flat and access to her bank accounts. After repeated harassment, on November 11, 2011 Mohini wrote letters to the Chief Minister, declaring that she would go on a hunger strike from December 26 onwards, if no action was taken against her harassers.

That same evening, she approached the Azad Maidan police to grant her permission to fast on Azad Maidan. At around 8.30 pm, the police promised to look into all her complaints if she agreed not to go on a fast, to which Mohini agreed.

On February 16, 2012, she once again knocked on the doors of the Azad Maidan police station requesting permission to go on a ‘peaceful protest hunger strike’. “Police told my mother that no cognizance would be taken of her complaints if she didn’t threaten to kill herself,” Dilip told MiD-DAY.

Thereafter, Mohini addressed a letter to the Bombay High Court threatening to commit suicide, on January 18, 2012. Police once again promised to look into her complaint, on which she called off her decision to commit suicide, but continued the hunger strike, travelling there daily from her home in Vashi.

On the morning of January 25, 2012, a police officer from the Vashi police station turned up asking her to accompany him to the police station to finally lodge an FIR against her grandsons. She was requested to bring along her son, Dilip.

The two were made to sit in the police station from around 9.00 pm to 1.30 pm, with the excuse that police were seeking advice from the public prosecutor. At 4.45 pm they were told the public prosecutor would see them, and were taken to court. Before they realised what was happening, the mother-son duo were produced before the Magistrate and placed in ‘preventive custody’, for trying to commit suicide.

No medical exam was carried out, and they weren’t permitted to carry any extra clothes. They had been ‘cheated’ by police officers. Dilip, who had no part in the fast or the ‘threat’ of suicide, was also detained illegally.

The division bench of Justices PV Hardas and Mridula Bhatkar have now ordered the state government to fork out Rs 3 lakh to each of them as compensation for their illegal detention. 

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