Mumbai crime branch probes custodial death after beggar dies

  • Manish K Pathak, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2016 19:39 IST

Technicality earned police a bad name when they tried to play Good Samaritan.

The Shivaji Park police had to book a 45-year-old woman under the Beggars Act after a government hospital turned the ailing elderly away denying her immediate treatment.

After slapping a case under the Beggars Act, the police admitted her to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar after a series of running from one hospital to the other. However, the woman died during treatment and the Shivaji Park police are now facing a probe by the Mumbai crime branch, as the death technically occurred in the custody of the police.

The deceased, identified as Pushpa Shah, was found sleeping on the roadside because she has no family to take care of her. A few social workers noticed her on January 25 and took her to a government hospital but the hospital refused to admit her. The police said she was suffering of tuberculosis.

The social worker then brought the woman to the police station and approached the Shivaji Park police for help. The police then contacted the government hospital and acted according to the rulebook. The police booked her under the sections 5 and 10 of the Beggars Act and got her admitted to Sion hospital.

“On January 26, the woman was admitted to Sion hospital. But her condition deteriorated and so she was shifted to a private hospital in Chembur and later brought to Rajawadi on January 28,” said senior inspector Ashok Jagdale of the Shivaji Park police station.

The woman died on January 30 during treatment in Rajawadi. As she was booked under the charges of Mumbai Police Act, technically, she died in the custody. The crime branch unit 5 was assigned to investigate the case.

A senior IPS officer said the police should have taken cue from the custodial death in Vanrai police station in 2013 October, the case in which four policemen were convicted for seven years.

In many cases, the mob often beat up the suspect when caught in public after an offence. When the police are informed, they bring the suspect to the police station for legal formalities and then take the suspect to the hospital.

In the past several cases, the suspect died during treatment and it becomes a custodial death. But essentially, the police should directly bring the injured suspect to the hospital and then finish the legal formalities.

Additional commissioner of police KMM Prasanna confirmed that the crime branch is probing the matter.

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