Madhya Pradesh HC Directed State Government to Compensate Kin of Man Died Mysteriously in Police Custody

Savvy Thakur

Published on: 29 November 2022 at 19:07 IST

The Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court issued an order directing the state government to compensate the family of a man who mysteriously passed away while in police custody.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigation in this case, noting that the Gwalior Police failed to maintain the public’s faith in the force.

“This Court has lost confidence in the Gwalior Police and the investigating officers because, from the beginning, they were working solely to protect the guilty police personnel.”

As a result, it is evident that the Gwalior Police have utterly failed to conduct a free and fair investigation in the case of a custodial death.”

According to the order, “The Director, CBI, is directed to immediately assume control of the investigation and hand it over to a competent investigating officer.”

The victim’s son had brought a petition to the bench pointing out that the Gwalior Police had not done enough to investigate the sudden death of his father, who had been brutally beaten while he was in custody.

According to the petition, a dispute over land occurred on August 10, 2019, between the petitioner’s father and a neighbor. In order to file complaints against one another, the pair went to the police.

However, the petitioner claimed that the police had filed a case against his father and that he had been brutally beaten when he tried to get the police to file his own complaint. He claimed that the police’s severe wounds caused his father’s death.

In contrast, the accused police maintained that the complainant was referred for a medical examination while the deceased was only restrained in the police station. The victim had already taken his own life by entering the prison and hanging himself.

The First Information Report (FIR) was filed against Vijay Singh Rajput, the then-Station House Officer, Head Constable, and his deputies, Arun Mishra, Dharmendra, Neeraj Prajapati, and Vijay Kushwaha, in response to the petitioner’s complaint. In the case, even Homeguard Sainik Ehsaan Khan was arrested.

Justice Ahluwalia noted in his 64-page decision that, despite the fact that an FIR was filed, the investigation did not begin properly.

The petitioner only contacted the Superintendent of Police, Gwalior, and the investigation was moved from the Belgada police station to the nearby Bhitarwar police station.

The Bench noted that even the Bhitarwar investigating officers did not conduct a proper investigation and actually attempted to shield the accused officers. None of the accused have been arrested or charged in the three years since the incident. The accused police officers were placed on leave for a few months before being reinstated.

The evidence demonstrated that the accused police officers had unlawfully detained the deceased. The Court stated that the Safi (rope) would not have been kept in the prison even if the victim committed suicide. It also mentioned that the accused officers tampered with the CCTV footage and claimed that the police station was without power at the time.

The Bench stated that the Gwalior Police disguised the situation to protect the perpetrators after taking note of all of these factors.

“It is evident that although the Gwalior Police had disguised the situation and projected that the matter is being investigated by a senior police officer of a different District in order to create a false impression in the minds of the general public, the Superintendent of Police Gwalior did not take any pains to restore the public’s faith in the police, but on the contrary, deliberately closed their eyes in order to ignore the manner in which the investigation was being conducted,”

The fact that the Superintendent of Police, Gwalior, “facilitated” the retirement of the primary accused Rajput rather than initiating disciplinary proceedings against the erring cops bothered the Bench. The Bench concluded that Rajput had nothing more than an “out and out privilege” to retire with all retirement benefits.

As a result, the Bench mandated an investigation by the Director General of Police, MP, to determine whether the investigating officers could be booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act or the Indian Penal Code for “protecting the accused cops.”

The Court stated that if the DGP determines this, he should request the CBI to name the three investigating officers as defendants in the case.

A further directive was given to start a departmental investigation against the Superintendent and the other case officers.

In addition, the DGP was instructed to suspend all of the accused police until the conclusion of the trial.

Justice Ahluwalia clarified, “These directions are necessary so that the public’s faith in the criminal justice system is maintained.”

Case Title:  Ashok Rawat v. State of Madhya Pradesh

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