The judiciary regularly adjudicates cases of illegal, unjustified and unwarranted arrests, extracting confession from innocent persons for offences which they have never committed, by way of custodial violence.
The emblematic cases are given below.
Case 1: Delhi court sentenced five Uttar Pradesh police personnel to 10 years imprisonment for custodial death
On 20 March 2019, a court in Delhi sentenced five personnel of Uttar Pradesh Police to 10-year rigorous imprisonment each for torturing a man to death at Sector 20 police station in Noida in Gautam Buddh district, Uttar Pradesh. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra awarded the sentence to Sub-Inspectors Hindveer Singh and Mahesh Mishra and Constables Pradeep Kumar, Pushpender Kumar and Haripal Singh for abducting the victim, Sonu, making incorrect entries in the general diary to mislead evidence and torturing him which led to his death in 2006. Kunwar Pal, a property dealer and an accused in the case, was awarded imprisonment for three years by the court on kidnapping charge. The court also ordered the accused persons to pay cumulatively Rs. 17 lakh compensation to the father of the deceased. The court held the accused guilty on 18 March 2019. Following the death of Sonu, his father had filed a complaint and a case was registered. The case was previously tried by a court in Uttar Pradesh but the Supreme Court later transferred it to the Delhi court stating that “free and fair trial of the case will not be possible within the State of Uttar Pradesh as the accused were members of the State’s police force”.
Case 2: Madras High Court transferred custodial death of a minor to CB-CID
On 26 March 2019, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court transferred the custodial death case of a 17-year-old boy in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu to the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CB-CID). Hearing the petition, filed by M Jeya, mother of the victim, who sought a CB-CID investigation, the High Court observed that there are many lapses in the case and it will be investigated under Section 302 of the IPC by the CB-CID. Earlier on 20 March 2019, the High Court directed the Dean of the Government Rajaji Hospital to submit clear reports on the death of the minor, who died in the custody of S.S. Colony police station in Madurai district on 24 January 2019. In her petition, M Jeya alleged that her son was subjected to custodial torture, leading to his death. Taking serious note of the shoddy conduct of the authorities in the alleged case of custodial torture and resultant death of the victim, the court questioned why the Government Rajaji Hospital had not conducted the post mortem in the first place, despite injury marks on the deceased and wondering if there was any nexus between the authorities in the case. Earlier, the court had sought reports from the Commissioner of Police, Madurai, and Juvenile Justice Board. The petitioner claimed that her son was first picked up by the police on 7 January 2019 for an inquiry in a case of jewel theft and subsequently released. But, a week later, the police had informed her that they suspected her son’s involvement in the theft and again picked him up for inquiry. She said that her son was kept in illegal custody for three days and subjected to torture. The minor was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and a complaint was raised over his alleged torture by the police. Following the complaint, the minor was admitted to the hospital where he succumbed to injuries on 24 January 2019.
Case 3: Punjab & Haryana High Court orders SIT against custodial death of woman
On 18 March 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Punjab Police to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to be headed by an additional director of police to investigate into the custodial death of a woman identified as Ramandeep Kaur in 2017. The 29-year-old woman, who was picked up by the police in connection with an ATM fraud case on 5 August 2017, was found dead at Dugri police station in Ludhiana district. As per the court direction, the SIT will have to conduct the inquiry and submit the report within a period of three months. The order was passed by Justice Arvind Sangwan while disposing a petition filed by the fiancé of the deceased. The petitioner had sought directions to investigate or hold an inquiry afer registering an FIR against police officials of Ludhiana. According to the petitioner, on the night of 4 August 2017, they were both apprehended and tortured throughout the night and Ramandeep died in police custody at the police station. Later, the police made up a case that Ramandeep had committed suicide in the police station and cremated the body on 5 August 2017 without waiting for the arrival of her parents and relatives. While the State government informed the court that both the petitioner and the deceased were facing several criminal cases registered in Ludhiana related to cheating and forgery and claimed that nothing had been found against the police in the inquiry carried after the incident.
Case 4: Madhya Pradesh High Court gave last opportunity to State Government to submit inquiry report in a custodial death case
On 11 March 2019, the Madhya Pradesh High court granted a final extension of 15 days to the police to file report of investigation into custodial death case of Pankaj Vaishnav, a court employee who had died at MIG police station in Indore district, Madhya Pradesh in December 2016. Taking a strong note of the delay in the police investigation, the court directed the counsel for state government to ensure presence of Director General of Police in court on the next date of hearing on 4 April 2019 – if chargesheet or the final report is not filed within 15 days. Earlier, the court had granted extension multiple times to police department to conclude investigation against police officials. The court also questioned the action taken by the police in the past one year and commented that public had lost trust on the police machinery.
Case 5: Seven personnel of Haryana Police booked for torture against Dalit on court’s order
On 8 March 2019, seven personnel of Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) of Haryana Police, including an Inspector, were booked for allegedly abducting Sachin Kumar (26), a Dalit, and subjecting him to torture in Kurukshetra, Haryana in August 2018. On the directions of Judicial Magistrate Chetesh Gupta, a case was registered against Inspector Deepender Singh, Sub-Inspector Subhash Chand, Head Constables Lalit Kumar and Nirmaljit Singh, and Constables Naveen, Arvind and Sandeep. They were booked under Sections 364 (abducting in order to murder), 167 (framing an incorrect document to cause injury), 452 (trespass) of the IPC, besides relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. According to the victim, he was forcibly taken away by a CIA team on 8 August 2018 after the police team barged into his house, claiming that he was in possession of a countrymade weapon. He was taken to the CIA office in Kurukshetra where he was allegedly subjected to torture before he was released after his family and villagers approached the police.
Case 6: Court sentenced two police head constables to two years imprisonment in Punjab
On 8 March 2019, the Court of Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Faridkot in Punjab sentenced two police head constables to two years imprisonment for custodial torture of Sunil Kumar at Kotkapura police station in Faridkot district in May 2014. The two head constables identified as Jang Singh and Surjit Singh had trespassed into the house of the victim at Prem Nagar, Kotkapura on 27 May 2014, kidnapped him and illegally detained him at the police statation for the purpose of extorting money. The victim was threatened and sustained injuries following the torture. The Court held that the accused did not deserve to be released on probation of good conduct and behaviour. The victim was forced to move the court after the police had failed to take any action against the accused on a complaint lodged by him. In his complaint in the court filed in July 2014, Sunil Kumar had alleged that his face was wrapped with cloth and water was put in his nose due to which his breath was stopped and there were attempts to kill him in the police lock-up. He also stated that he was tortured for two days at Kotkapura and Jaito police stations as the police wanted to extort money and procure his signature on some papers.
Case 7: Gujarat High Court compensates woman for arrest after sunset
On 5 March 2019, the Gujarat High Court directed the State government to pay a compensation of Rs 2,500 to a woman, who was arrested after sunset in violation of law in 2012. The high court had asked the woman to institute civil proceedings against the concerned police inspector, if she wished to claim more damages from him for the violation of law. The woman, Varshaben Patel had been fighting a legal battle for over seven years after her arrest on the night of 5 November 2012 from her home. She was arrested along with her husband on charges of cheating and forgery over a property dispute. After her arrest, the victim complained before the Magisterial Court in Vadodara that her arrest at night was in violation of provisions of Section 46(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits arrest of a woman after sunset except in extraordinary circumstances and with prior permission from a judicial magistrate. However, the magisterial court let off the accused police officer with a strict warning. Aggrieved, she moved the high court for action against the police officer.
. Custodial death: 10-year imprisonment for 5 cops, The Hindu, 21 March 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/custodial-death-10-year-imprisonment-for-5-cops/article26594907.ece
. Custodial death case transferred to CB-CID, The Times of India, 27 March 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/custodial-death-case-transferred-to-cb-cid/articleshowprint/68588497.cms
. HC seeks report from GRH on boy’s death, The Hindu, 20 March 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/hc-seeks-report-from-grh-on-boys-death-madurai/article26593510.ece
. Punjab and Haryana HC orders SIT probe into woman’s custodial death, The Times of India, 21 March 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/hc-orders-sit-probe-into-custodial-death-of-ludhiana-woman/articleshowprint/68505531.cms
. Submit final probe report in 15 days, HC directs cops in custodial death case, The Times of India, 12 March 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/submit-final-probe-report-in-15-days-hc-directs-cops-in-custodial-death-case/articleshowprint/68381312.cms
. FIR against 7 K’shetra cops for Dalit’s ‘torture’ – CIA staff booked on court orders, The Tribune, 9 March 2019, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/fir-against-7-k-shetra-cops-for-dalit-s-torture/740175.html
. ILLEGAL CONFINEMENT, TORTURE CASE – 2 policemen sent to two years in jail, The Tribune, 9 March 2019, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/bathinda/2-policemen-sent-to-two-years-in-jail/740413.html
. Compensate woman for arrest at night: Gujarat HC to govt, The Times of India, 5 March 2019, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/compensate-woman-for-arrest-at-night-gujarat-hc-to-govt/articleshowprint/68262664.cms