Taking a serious view of custodial deaths, the Bombay high court has said police officers who allow the practice "should be hanged". "No mercy can be shown to such a police officer," the division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice RD Dhanuka said on Thursday. "Such officers are required to be hanged," the judges said.
The court's stern remarks came while hearing a petition seeking justice for the two persons who died in custody at an Ulhasnagar police station within a month.
The public interest litigation filed by Hardas Tharwani, a social activist from Ulhasnagar, sought a CID probe into the custodial death of one Sunil Shelke. The 38-year-old tailor was summoned by Central police station, Ulhasnagar, following a complaint of harassment lodged by his wife.
Tharwani's counsel said Shelke was badly beaten by the police in the lock-up after he declined to give a written undertaking assuring he would not ill-treat his wife. "His head was banged on the cell wall," the counsel said, alleging that police brutalities led to Shelke's death on April 12 last year. Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol, however, clarified that post-mortem reports confirmed that Shelke had not died because of torture, but because of poisoning.
The petitioner alleged that Shelke's death was not a solitary incident; barely a month prior to his death, another person, Narayan Rathod, had died in custody at the same police station. "This appears to be a dangerous police station, where police are killing people in custody," the judges remarked.
The court directed the state government to initiate departmental proceedings against the officer in charge of Central police station. The court also directed the home department to take steps to ensure no such incident is repeated elsewhere.
The court has also directed the state CID to submit a report indicating progress of the probe into Shelke's custodial death.