The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed a district and sessions court judge to inquire into the allegations that Dalit activist Shiv Kumar was illegally detained and tortured in custody, reported Bar and Bench.

Justice Avneesh Jhingan passed the order after examining four medical reports submitted by the state in accordance with the High Court’s earlier orders in the matter. A medical report submitted by the Government Medical College and Hospital to the High Court had shown that Kumar was subjected to torture when he was in police remand.

On Tuesday, Jhingan refused to comment on the medical reports, saying that any observation could affect the inquiry into the matter. However, the judge said that “it would suffice for this court to say that a probe is required”.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by Kumar’s father, Rajbir, who had sought the transfer of his son’s case to an independent agency and his medical examination on grounds that he was being tortured in custody.

Senior Advocate RS Cheema, representing Kumar’s father, said that a comparison with the initial medical report, the subsequent medical report dated February 22 speaks for itself. The state did not make any objections.

However, the High Court did not stay the Special Investigation Team’s investigation. But, it barred the SIT from filing its final report without first seeking the permission of the High Court.

“At this stage, there is nothing before this court to doubt the investigation being carried out by the SIT,” the judge said. “However, as there could be an occasion that the conclusion arrived at by the SIT and inquiry report with regard to two sets of medical reports may cast shadow on each other...SIT may continue with the investigation but shall not submit its final report without seeking permission from this court.”

The matter has been posted for hearing on May 11, when a status report will be submitted.

Shiv Kumar’s case and medical report

Kumar, alog with activist Nodeep Kaur, was arrested in January on charges of extortion, theft and attempt to murder after they mobilised workers near Singhu border, which is the epicentre of farmer protests against the three agriculture laws.

Kumar was granted bail in all the three cases lodged against him in the first week of March. Kaur was released from jail on February 26, after the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted her bail in the third case registered. She got bail in the first two cases on February 12 and February 15.

On February 19, the High Court had directed the superintendent of Sonipat Jail to have Kumar examined at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, after his father alleged that the jailed activist was “subjected to police torture”. The board examined Kumar on February 20.

The four-page medical report showed that Kumar suffered multiple fractures, torn toenails and was “mentally and physically abused in the police remand”.

The medical report, quoting Kumar, said that he was taken to old Kacheri, Sonepat, on January 16 after he was arrested and assaulted by seven people. The activist alleged that the police tied both his feet, lay him on the ground, and hit him on the soles.

The psychiatric assessment said that the activist appeared sad and distressed with occasional spells of crying. “He expressed preoccupation with his current situation, reported predominant anxiety symptoms, flashbacks of brutality meted out to him, nightmares, feelings of loneliness, uncertainty about future and sleep disturbances,” it added.