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Allahabad High Court rejects bail plea of policeman accused in custodial death case

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The Allahabad High Court has rejected the bail application of police personnel accused of murder and robbery of Krishana Yadav @ Pujari in the custody of Baksa police station of Jaunpur.

A single-judge bench of Justice Samit Gopal passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by Ramkrit Yadav.

The bail application under Section 439 of Code of Criminal Procedure has been filed by Ramkrit Yadav, seeking enlargement on bail during trial under Sections 302, 394, 452, 504 IPC registered at P.S CBI/SSB Lucknow, District Lucknow.

The First Information Report of the case was lodged on 12.02.2021 as Case under Sections 302, 394, 452, 504 IPC, PS Baksa, District Jaunpur in connection with an incident which is said to have taken place from 11.02.2021 to 12.02.2021 by Ajai Kumar Yadav against SOG Team, Jaunpur, Ajai Kumar Singh, SO, Baksa Jaunpur and the accompanying persons of the SO of Police Station Baksa, District Jaunpur alleging therein that on 11.02.2021 at about 03:00 am, the SOG Team, Ajai Kumar Singh SO Baksa along with his accompanying police force came to the house of the first informant and took his brother Krishna Kumar Yadav @ Pujari son of Tilakdhari aged about 24 years to the Police Station in spite of the fact that there was no criminal case lodged against his brother in any Police Station in the District.

His brother was a friendly person. His brother has been taken by the SOG Team and SO Baksa Ajai Kumar Singh for being falsely implicated in a case and was detained at the Police Station.

Further, in the night at about 08:00 pm, the SO Baksa with his accompanying police team and other police personnels being about 10 in number barged into his house and broke upon the lock of the box and took away Rs 60,000 and the articles. On being stopped, they abused the ladies. Again at about 12:30 am, the SOG Incharge and the SO Baksa along with 10-12 police personnel came on a Bolero vehicle and motorcycles and brought his brother to the house. His brother was not in a position to stand and was shouting loudly to his mother to save him and was stating that the police personnel will kill him. They took away a motorcycle which was in the house. The first informant went to the Police Station but the police personnel did not let him meet his brother.

In the morning, he received information that his brother had died in police custody. He states that his brother has been murdered by police personnel and requested that SO Baksa be directed to lodge the FIR against the then SO Baksa, SOG Team and other accompanying personnel for murder and loot and appropriate action be taken. The said application was addressed to the Superintendent of Police, Jaunpur.

A judicial inquiry was also ordered which was taken up by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jaunpur which was inconclusive in so far as the purpose of it was concerned. It was stated therein that after the detailed inquiry, the conclusion which comes is that the injuries received on the body of the deceased were as a result of beating and torture by the police or were received on 11.02.2021 at about 02:00 pm in village Birhadpur due to an accident with a motorcycle and then by assault of passer-by. The inquiry was thus concluded.

A writ petition being Crl Misc Writ Petition was filed by the first informant before the Court with regards to his grievances in which by a detailed order dated 08.09.2021 a Division Bench of the Court directed the CBI to investigate the matter and ordered the transfer of the matter to the CBI forthwith.

The CBI then took up the case and lodged a First Information Report on 17.09.2021 at 06:15 pm as under Sections 302, 394, 452, 504 IPC, P.S- SCB Lucknow, District Lucknow against SOG Team, Ajai Kumar Singh SO Baksa along with police personnel of Police Station Baksa, District Jaunpur.

The CBI completed the investigation and has submitted a charge sheet under Section 34 read with Sections 302, 330, 331, 218 read with Section 120-B IPC on 22.02.2022 in the court of Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI Lucknow against 19 police officials including the applicant.

Counsel for the applicant argued that the applicant has been falsely implicated in the case. It is argued that the applicant is a police personnel and since 2015 he is serving at Surveillance Cell, Jaunpur and has been awarded with various commendation certificates for his distinguished services.

It is argued that the applicant joined his services in the Police Department in 1998 and was actively involved in the encounter of the famous Kallu Najju Gang in Shahjahanpur in which he received a bullet injury in his left eye and lost his vision in November, 2002. He was admitted for treatment from 09.11.2000 to 02.12.2000 in KGMU, Lucknow.

It is argued that the applicant has been made an accused in the case by the CBI intentionally as he was interrogated on 26.11.2021 before his arrest and was offered to become an “approver” in the case which was declined by him after which he has been falsely implicated in the case.

It is next argued that the involvement of the applicant in the case has been shown on the basis of GD dated 12.02.2021 allegedly transcribed at 01:30 hrs at Police Station Baksa, District Jaunpur pertaining to the arrest of the deceased in which the name of the applicant finds place and he is shown to be a signatory of the arrest and recovery memo of the deceased.

It is also argued that the signature of the applicant in the said recovery memo is a forged signature and the applicant has also given his sample to the CBI for forensic analysis which if done would clear the doubts. It is further argued that the applicant has no previous criminal history and is not a previous convict in any case. The applicant has been in jail since 27.11.2021.

Per contra, the CBI counsel opposed the prayer for bail. It is argued that the case is a case of custodial death. There are eye witness accounts of the police taking away the deceased from his house and committing robbery.

It is further argued that looking at the seriousness and the gravity of the offence, a Division Bench of the Court order dated 08.09.2021 transferred the investigation to the CBI from the local police by a detailed order after having been fully satisfied that the case is a case of custodial death.

It is also argued that the deceased was brutally beaten by police personnel in police custody.

Counsel for the CBI said that the opinion of the Forensic Department of AIIMS is specific to the fact that the injuries received by the deceased were collectively sufficient to cause his death in the ordinary course of nature. It is argued that the applicant was one of the police personnel who had brought the deceased from his house as is evident from the arrest and recovery memo and the GD entry of the concerned Police Station. He is one of the signatories of the said memo.

Counsel for the CBI further said that the Medical Board of AIIMS has opined that the nature of injuries as received were caused by cylindrical objects like a rod, baton or lathi which are the common articles of assault by the police. It is argued that as such the bail application of the applicant thus deserves to be rejected.

The Court said,

In the case of Shakila Abdul Gafar Khan Vs Vasant Raghunath Dhoble and another: (2003) 7 SCC 749 the Apex Court has shown its anguish in the matters of custodial violence, torture and abuse of police powers.

Custodial violence, custodial torture and custodial deaths have always been a concern for civilized society. Times and again the judicial verdicts of the Apex Court and other Courts have shown their concern and anguish in such matters.

“After having heard counsels for the parties and perusing the records and as per the judgments of the Apex Court as referred to above, it is evident that the case is a case of custodial death. The case of the prosecution is of the deceased being taken away from his house to Police Station Baksa, District Jaunpur which is not in dispute. An arrest memo was prepared regarding his arrest by the officials of the police after which a GD was also drawn regarding the same. In the arrest memo, the applicant is one of the persons arresting him and is also a signatory to it. His name as such finds place in the corresponding GD dated 12.02.2021. The injuries as received by the deceased cover basically the entire back side of his body. The opinion of the Board of AIIMS, New Delhi is specific to the fact that he died due to collective effect of the injuries received by him. The same would go to show that the death was not natural. The case is a case of custodial torture and death with robbery in a well planned conspiracy. The applicant is in the police force which is considered to be a disciplined force and enshrined with the pious duty of maintaining law and order and protecting the citizens. The case is not a case of police excess but a clear cut case of abuse of police powers and police high handedness. I do not find it a fit case for bail.

Considering the totality of the case in particular, nature of evidence available on record, the order of the Division Bench of the Court and the dictum of the Apex Court, I am not inclined to release the applicant on bail,” the Court observed while rejecting the bail application.

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