The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday framed contempt charges against four police officers who publicly flogged five Muslim men in the state’s Kheda district a year ago, The Indian Express reported.

In October 2022, a group of Muslim men allegedly threw stones at a garba site near a mosque at Undhela village of Kheda. The following day, five Muslims accused of being involved in the incident – Jahirmiya Malek, Maksudabanu Malek, Sahadmiya Malek, Sakilmiya Malek and Shahidraja Malek were dragged out in public, tied to a pole and beaten with a stick by the police as a crowd cheered.

Videos of the flogging showed the men being asked to apologise to the public. The five men moved the Gujarat High Court, contending that they were the victims of police violence and demanded action against 15 police personnel.

On Wednesday, a division bench of Justices AS Supehia and MR Mengdey initiated proceedings under civil contempt and contempt of courts laws for violation of the Supreme Court’s directives in the DK Basu versus State of West Bengal case.

In the 1996 case, the Supreme Court laid down guidelines that the police must follow while arresting or detaining any person.

The proceedings against the four policemen were started based on an inquiry report of Nadiad chief judicial magistrate.

The petitioners demanded that the police personnel be “punished for contempt and non-compliance” in accordance with these guidelines.

The accused officials are Inspector AV Parmar, sub-inspector DB Kumavat, constable Rajubhai Rameshbhai Dabhi and head constable Kanaksinh Laxmansinh. The proceedings against the 11 other police officers were dropped.

Kumavat contended that he could not booked for contempt because he was not seen flogging the victims. However, the bench declined his submission, The Indian Express reported.

“Incident of flogging has happened in broad daylight before a crowd,” the judges said. “Presence of [Kumavat] is not in dispute. [Kumavat] has not made any efforts that the applicants who are being brutally flogged in public view by other respondents are rescued, no efforts are made to stop the flogging. On the contrary, his presence in chowk with other assailants shows he accompanied other respondents and has played an active role in bringing the applicants to chowk from the police station and they were tied and mercilessly beaten.”

Therefore, the court said that Kumavat could not be granted immunity as he gave tacit consent to his colleagues’ actions.

Also read: ‘Garba jihad’: How Navratri became a communal flashpoint in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh