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HC rebukes Maharashtra police over custodial death

Friday, October 16, 2009 05:46:04 PM, Agencies

Mumbai: This is a cold-blooded murder , life has become cheap, said a division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi, while coming down heavily on the police over the custodial death of Altaf Shaikh.


Altaf was picked up by the Ghatkopar police from his home at Parksite in Vikhroli around 4 am on September 11, in connection with a break-in case. Around 10 am, Altaf was sent to Rajawadi Hospital where he was declared dead; the police insisted that he died of drug overdose. Later, Altaf's mother, Mehrunisa moved the high court, alleging a custodial killing by the Ghatkopar police. She has demanded a probe into the case and a compensation of Rs 25 lakh.


On which the police in its reply stated that Altaf had consumed six intoxicating tablets, and "could barely stand". "It is the drug overdose that killed him."


The court, however, said the police report was at odds with the autopsy result of the deceased, Altaf Shaikh from Vikhroli. During the last hearing, the judges said based on the autopsy report, Altaf's death looked like a murder in custody.


The Court then summoned five doctors who conducted the postmortem on the 22-year-old youth who died in the Ghatkopar police custody earlier last month.

Public prosecutor P A Pol said, a final decision on action against the police could be taken only after the forensic and chemical analysis reports on the cause of the death were available. The reply invited the wrath of the judges and justice Nazki reminded Pol that he was a public prosecutor, not a police employee.


He said, public prosecutors are getting into the habit of being "persecutors" protecting the police. "We do not expect this attitude. When you tell a lie, you have to discover another lie, and this leads to a cycle," justice Nazki said.


"People's lives cannot be taken away like this. There was no allegation against this poor boy. Life has become cheap," justice Nazki said. "If the government has some sense of responsibility, it will take some action on its part."

Assistant commissioner of police Prakash Wani, in a fresh affidavit, told the court that Altaf was in a drowsy state when he was picked up. Wani also referred to the inquest panchnama, which mentioned that there was no external injury on Altaf s body.


The judges, however, drew his attention to the post-mortem report, which stated that the youth died of head injury and haemorrhage. It also recorded 12 injuries on his body.

The court said it would not hesitate to initiate action against Wani for filing a false affidavit.


The HC has asked the five doctorsM E Bansude, A H Meshram, G S Chavan, B G Chikkalkar and A P Raymaneto be present in court on Friday to explain the cause of the death.

Wani told the court that a departmental inquiry had been started against three officers , sub-inspector S Khedekar , head constable R Kolekar and constable S Thombre. According to Wani, they treated Altaf with kid gloves. The police carried Altaf in their arms to the auto as he appeared to be drowsy, as if under the influence of some strong medicine, said Wani. He also claimed that Altaf had even been externed.








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