Sixteen months have passed since the state informed the Bombay High Court that a circular relating to illegal detention had been issued to police officers concerned across the state, but they are either ignorant about the circular or said that they had not received it.
As per HC’s directives issued in August 2008, the state was to issue a circular stating: ‘When police officers need a person to be examined as a witness or as a suspect, they shall send a notice in writing to the said person’ (except in those cases where a person is to be arrested in a cognisable offence).
In response to the HC order, the state had produced a circular before the court stating that a person could be called to police station only after a written notice was sent to him. It also said that if the directions were not complied with, the officer concerned would be dealt with in accordance with law and court could infer illegal detention.
Hindustan Times spoke to some officers across the state.
“We have not received any such circular,” said Pradeep Suryavanshi, senior police inspector, MIDC police station. He added that the procedure was laid down in criminal procedure code but was time consuming.
Sanjeev Kokil, senior inspector MRA Marg police station said that he was not aware of any such circulars as he had taken charge only four months ago. “I was posted in the control room earlier,” he added.
Rajesh Pradhan Superintendent of Yavatmal Police, said: “Why are you asking me? I’m on leave since two days and will be able to say only when I resume.”
Dr Nikhil Gupta SP Nashik (Rural), gave a similar answer: “I will have to check and can tell you only after that,” he said.
“I don’t know. We have not received any such circulars,” said Satya Pal Singh, Pune police commissioner.
Advocate Vishal Ingawale, involved with the case which led to the HC directive said: “The Public Prosecutor told the high court that the circular has been issued to all police stations and published on their gazette. We were given a copy.” Former sessions court judge V P Patil said, “All officers ought to know about such a serious HC order.”
Asim Sarode, lawyer and human rights activist said: “Expressing ignorance is irresponsible behavior.” He added that ignorance of law could not be an excuse.
Meanwhile, DGP (acting) A N Roy, who was the state top cop when the circular was to be issued said: “I don’t know which circular is that. I’ll have to check, then only I can comment.”
Illegal detention continues in the state. Last week, Mahesh Gautam (27) was allegedly detained by Sewree police for five days and released after his lawyer sent a mail to a top cop.