Overzealous cop’s poor command over Queen’s English lands Indian villager in jail

Manoj Chaurasia
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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, goes an age-old saying. This was proved literally true when a man from India’s Bihar state had to spend 24 hours in police lock-up just because the cops had poor knowledge of English.

The foot soldiers looking rather interested in carrying guns from their soldiers than study mistook the word “warrant” mentioned on the top of a court notice written in Queen’s English to an “arrest warrant” and hurriedly put the man in police lock-up.


It was only when the man was produced before the court in handcuff that the judge noticed the fault and ordered the cops to send him home with respect. But then the injustice had already been meted out to him.

As such, a family court in Patna had issued a “warrant” against one Neeraj Kumar, a resident of central Bihar’s Jehanabd district, after he had failed to pay the monthly maintenance of Rs 2,500 to his estranged wife Renu Devi despite the court order.

The warrant – known in legal parlance as “distress warrant” – had been issued to assess the property details of Kumar so that they could be confiscated and sold to pay the outstanding maintenance amount due to his wife if he fails to follow the court order.

A copy of the court order was also sent to the local Makhdumpur police in Jehanabad district. However, the police mistook the “warrant to enforce the payment of maintenance” as “warrant of arrest” and sent the man to police lock-up after arresting him.

“I too am smart”

Kumar made all pleas and also tried hard to make the cops talk to his lawyer to know the reality of the court order but the police refused to listen anything from him and kept repeating “I too am smart, I also know the English”.

The result was that the man had to spend night in lock-up with having dim light of bulb and swarm of mosquitoes attacking him all the time. The next day he was packed in a police jeep and produced in a court in Patna, some 40 km from Jehanabad, and it was then that his trouble came to an end.

The court notice which was misconstrued as arrest warrant. (Supplied)
The court notice which was misconstrued as arrest warrant. (Supplied)

Witnesses said after seeing the man in handcuff, the court severely reprimanded the cops and ordered him to drop him with all the respect. “I was sitting at his shop when the cops came in a jeep and made me sit inside forcibly. I requested them to show me the warrant of arrest and also urged him to please talk to his lawyer but the police officer refused to listen,” Kumar told the media today.

According to him, when a local politician reached the police station for his help, the cops behaved with him very rudely and drove him away.

Legal battle with wife

Kumar in the midst of a long-drawn legal battle with his wife and it was in the light of this legal wrangling that the court had to intervene. He had married Renu Devi from Punpun block in Patna district in 2012 but soon after their marriage, their relations got soured and the couple started quarrelling.

The situation turned serious when his wife registered two cases of torture against her husband with two different police stations. Kumar reacted by filing a divorce petition against his wife.

A local police official said the police indeed committed blunder by arresting the man. “Nowhere in the document was police directed to arrest the man. We are investigating the matter and suitable action will be taken against the erring cops,” additional superintendent of police Pankaj Kumar has told the media.

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