The death in custody of 28-year-old Jagjeet Kaur, who was earlier taken to the Bapu Dham police post from her native village of Arniwala in Fazilika district to assist the cops in nabbing the key accused in the Sector 26 firing incident, has put the Chandigarh police in a tight spot. The police reportedly violated the Section 46(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that clearly states no female can be detained after sunset and before sunrise.
A police squad was dispatched to the village of Jagjeet Kaur, a nurse, at about midnight on April 20 after learning that accused Manoj Kumar Rai was in touch with her after shooting a truck driver at a Sector 26 ‘dhaba’ (roadside restaurant) the day before. The latter, identified as Hamveer Singh, succumbed to gunshot wounds at PGI on April 22.
It was also learnt that Kaur was kept in illegal detention for around 14 hours till about 2 pm on April 21 when she reportedly collapsed at the police post. However, instead of taking action against the cops, senior police officials claimed a magisterial inquiry ordered into the incident by SDM (east) Danish Ashraf was under way.
Speaking to this reporter Ajay Jagga, a Punjab & Haryana High Court lawyer, said: “It’s sheer violation of human rights. Since the woman was not a witness nor a co-accused in the case, why did the police detain her illegally and not adhere to the Code of Criminal Procedure guidelines that they were was supposed to follow? Keeping in view the violations of the rights of women, section 46(4) was added to the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005, which prohibits the police from arresting a female after sunset and before sunrise except in exceptional circumstances, for which prior permission of a judicial magistrate (first class) has to be obtained”.
Jagga said the law also provided that if a female police officer was not available, a female relative or acquaintance of the woman detained should be allowed to remain present until she was released on bail or produced before a competent court. “In this case the police claimed the woman was not physically tortured. But if she died at the police post, the matter should be investigated in detail as it could be a case of mental torture,” he added.
Sources close to the police said the cops who kept Kaur in detention did not keep the Fazilika police in the loop when they searched her home, adding Rai was arrested with her help.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh police IGP RP Upadhyaya said action would be taken against the cops after completion of the magisterial probe.