Following a Bombay high court order directing the state to bring instances of custodial deaths in the state to absolute zero, the state government will henceforth submit monthly reports before the court, of all such instances in police stations across Maharashtra.
The government informed HC on Wednesday that it has directed the state CID to submit the monthly reports to the HC’s judicial registrar so that the court can directly monitor the situation.
Appearing for the government, additional public prosecutor Mankunwar Deshmukh also informed the HC that the home department has also approved punitive action against the eight Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel accused in the 2014 custodial death of Agnello Valdaris, a 24-year-old man from Wadala.
The government’s submissions came while a bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Revati Mohite-Dere were hearing a petition filed by Valdaris’ father.
Valdaris and three of his friends were arrested by the Wadala railway police for theft in April 2014. The police claimed that a few days after his arrest, Valdaris had attempted to run away and was run over by a local train. However, his father alleged that Valdaris died in police custody and sought a CBI probe. The three co-accused also became co-petitioners in the plea filed by Valdaris’ father and alleged that they had been subjected to torture and sexual abuse while in custody. One of these three co-accused persons was a minor but had been taken into custody along with the others.
The HC had transferred the case to the CBI in June 2014 and while it has already filed a charge sheet before a magisterial court against all the erring cops, it sought about two months’ time to investigate and determine if these cops should also be charged under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 (POCSO).
If the CBI does decide on charging the cops under POCSO, it will have to file a fresh charge sheet before a special court designated to hear cases under the Act.
14 custodial deaths in 2015: State to HC
According to statistics given by the state to the court, no cases of custodial deaths have been reported either in the city or in the state in the past two months.
In 2015, four cases of custodial deaths were reported in Mumbai and 14 such cases were reported from across Maharashtra
In 2014, six custodial deaths were reported in Mumbai and 11 in other parts of the state.
CCTV cameras in police stations
The state told the HC that in compliance with its previous order, tenders had been awarded to a private firm to install CCTV cameras in 25 police stations in the city as part of a pilot project. The government will subsequently install CCTV cameras in all police stations across the state.