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Allahabad High Court orders UP government to submit action taken report in custodial death case

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The Allahabad High Court has flayed the Uttar Pradesh government over death of a person in in custody at Police Station Khurja Nagar in Bulandshahr, directing the Additional Chief Secretary, Home, to submit an action taken report over the same.

A Division Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Rajnish Kumar passed the order on January 7, 2022, while hearing a petition filed by Suresh Devi And Another.

“This petition has been filed invoking jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India with the allegation that petitioner’s son has been murdered in police custody on the intervening night of December 11 and 12, 2020, while he was in police custody in Case Crime No.1181 of 2020, under Section 366 I.P.C., Police Station Khurja Nagar, District Bulandshahr.

A prayer has also been made to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners as their son was subjected to torture and murder as he had married a girl of other caste out of his own free will. It is contended that the authorities have been most unfair in dealing with the grievance raised by the petitioners.

Attention of the Court has been invited to the provision contained in Section 176 Cr.P.C., sub Section (1)A whereof contemplates holding of a judicial enquiry where death is caused in the custody of the police. It is also stated that neither any post mortem has been carried out nor the body has been buried and instead, the police personnel have cremated the bod, contrary to all settled norms.

AGA does not dispute the fact that a judicial enquiry was initiated with a request made to the District Judge on January 6, 2021 and states that a report is still awaited.

In matters, where the allegation is with regard to custodial death, judicial enquiry under Section 176 (1)A cannot be allowed to drag for so long. These are instances which have to be viewed with greatest sensitivity and concern.

We, therefore, direct the Registry to enquire from the District Judge, Bulandshahar as to when the enquiry report has been submitted in the matter and, in the event, such a report is not submitted, the explanation of the Judicial Officer in that regard shall be placed before us by the next date fixed as a period of more than one year has expired.

We hasten to add that in the event, such enquiry has not been concluded so far, the same shall be concluded most expeditiously by following the procedure in law.

List this matter, once again, on 27.01.2022 at 02:00 PM.”

In pursuant to above directions, a report has been received from the District Judge, Bulandshahr, annexing the copy of the judicial enquiry conducted by Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bulandshahr.

The Court noted that, conclusions of the enquiry report has clearly been found that the son of the petitioners died in the police custody and the police personnels are responsible for it. We are informed by AGA that the report of the judicial enquiry has been forwarded to Additional Chief Secretary, Home, by the District Magistrate concerned on 18.1.2022. No further instructions are available with the AGA about the outcome of such communication.

“Custodial death is a serious matter, particularly when the allegations are found true in the judicial enquiry and police personnels responsible for the death of the victim. It is otherwise on record that no postmortem was conducted and the body was cremated by police personnels. In matters of this kind we expect the higher officers to be sensitive to the deprivation of liberty and to immediately proceed to take appropriate action, as is warranted in law. We are not convinced with the version of the State that it is a case of suicide by victim, as the judicial enquiry has come to a different conclusion. Appropriate report ought to have been lodged under Section 154 and investigation ought to have progressed. Claim for payment of compensation also ought to have been considered”, the Court said.

“Since no such action is shown to have been taken so far, we call upon the Additional Chief Secretary of the Department of Home to examine the matter on priority and file his personal affidavit clearly disclosing the steps taken by the State in light of the report received in the judicial enquiry. The affidavit shall also explain the action taken against responsible officers in the matter”, the Court ordered.

The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on April 19.

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