The Bombay High Court has come down heavily on Arthur Road jail authorities and doctors for alleged use of excessive force on inmates, most of them accused in the 2006 serial train blasts, and dereliction of duty.
After finding them guilty, the court on Tuesday ordered a departmental inquiry against the jail officials, including former jailer Swati Sathe, for allegedly beating inmates last year while transferring them to other prisons in the state.
While directing the chief secretary to initiate the inquiry and take necessary action, the division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice AR Joshi ordered the inmates immediately transferred back to Arthur Road jail.
The court also said jail authorities had used force against the undertrials “for no fault of theirs (undertrials)”. “Force was used excessively for extraneous reasons and the law was flouted,” the court said in its 32-page judgment.
The court has asked the chief secretary to begin the inquiry within one month and finish it within six months. “If needed, in addition to disciplinary inquiry, criminal action also be initiated against the concerned officers,” the court observed.
In addition to the jail authorities, the court has also asked the chief secretary to initiate an inquiry against doctors at the jail for dereliction of duty and for fudging records.
The order was passed following a petition by Saeed Shaikh, son of one of the serial train blasts accused Mohammed Shaikh, alleging that his father and 30 other prisoners were beaten with batons and stones. Mohammed fractured his leg, and he was not given any medical treatment, Saeed claimed.
Sathe has justified the use of minimal force on the convicts saying they were shouting anti-India and provocative slogans.
The incident occurred on June 28, 2008, when 32 undertrials were shifted to other prisons in Ratnagiri, Kolhapur and Nagpur.