The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a show-cause notice to the Chief Secretary of Gujarat asking for the reason to not pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to a human rights lawyer in South Gujarat over falsely implicating him in a criminal case by the Surat Police. The victim lawyer has been identified as 39-year-old Bilal Kagzi, a native of Kosamba village of Mangrol Tehsil in Surat district.
In September 2019, a complaint was lodged by Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) – India, a Tamil Nadu-based forum stating that Advocate Kagzi along with seven others were booked for an attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy by Kosamba police in Surat district on August 12, 2019.
The complaint stated that “The complainant, in this case, alleged that all the accused persons attempted to kill him. But Bilal was at his home due to the festival of Bakri Eid and was nowhere near the place where the alleged offense took place… his name was inserted and added by the police in collusion with the complainant, in order to nurse a grudge against him as he is representing the co-accused in a number of criminal cases against the complainant”.
The NHRC while taking cognizance of the complaint asked the Superintendent of Police, Surat, to file an action taken report. While referring to the report filed by Surat district police authorities, the Commission through the order dated August 17 noted that “The allegation leveled against the victim was not substantiated during the course of inquiry and the victim had supply (sic) CCTV footage wherein he was not present at the alleged incident spot. The IO of the case had been directed to investigate the case and file the charge sheet with deletion of the name of the accused”.
Further on, the Commission has also held that there was an admitted lapse on the part of the police officials as the victim was falsely implicated. “The state is vicariously liable for their actions. The Commission considers this case to be a fit case for an award of compensation, therefore, issue notice u/s 18a(i) of PHR (Protection of Human Rights) Act, 1993 to the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Gujarat directing him to show cause within four weeks as to why the Commission should not recommend payment of compensation of Rs. One Lakhs only to the victim, whose human rights have been infringed due to lackadaisical behavior of police personnel”, the order reads.
According to the quoted source, Kagzi admitted that “Apart from my regular legal practice, I have also been fighting for the rights of Dalits, tribals and the underprivileged… as part of which I got several complaints of police atrocities lodged. So, they (some police officials of Kosamba) have been nursing a grudge against me.”
“Also, there are two groups in my village fighting against each other for local dominance. They are involved in a number of criminal cases and I represent one of the groups in the court. In the FIR registered on August 12 last year, the police connived with the opposite group who lodged the complaint and framed me in the criminal case”, he added.
“However, when the alleged incident happened, I was at my home and the footage of CCTV installed at my home proves that… Police did not consider the CCTV footage because they hold a grudge against me and want to harass me as I am responsible for a number of complaints of human rights violations, such as custodial torture, filed against them. I eventually had to secure anticipatory bail from the sessions court while taking the strong defense of alibi on the basis of CCTV footage in the case”, Kagzi added. The lawyer has also alleged that there are three other on-going similar false cases against him registered by local police.
In the present case, the NHRC passed the order dated August 17, 2020, directing the Chief Secretary to file a reply within four weeks.