The Bombay High Court today asked Maharashtra government to take stern steps to stop the “illegal and inhuman practice” of custodial deaths occurring in the state.
“The government should take strict action against police officers and staff who are responsible for custodial deaths and punish them to set an example for others by giving a message that the guilty would not be spared,” said a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Reveti Mohite-Dere.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions, including a PIL, on the increasing number of custodial death cases in the state.
“Only if you (State) take stringent action against police officers responsible for custodial deaths, such illegal and inhuman practice would come to an end,” the judges opined.
The HC was informed that CBI has sought sanction from the state government to prosecute police officers who were responsible for custodial deaths.
Government pleader Mankuwar Deshmukh informed that such a proposal was under consideration of the state government and a decision on this would be taken soon.
She also informed that in keeping with the HC order of January 2015 regarding installation of CCTVs in police stations all over Maharashtra, the state would provide 25 CCTVs in some police stations and grant for this has been approved by the state’s finance department.
The judges took this statement on record.
Counsel for petitioners informed that the state had not yet filed an affidavit regarding the HC order asking the government to inform about custodial deaths every month. The advocate also informed that a government website had disclosed two custodial deaths — in October and November this year.
Adjourning the matter till January 8, the bench asked the government to disclose details of these two custodial deaths.
The bench also wanted to know what charges were being faced by the accused who died in custody.
On the last occasion, the HC had remarked that said it was “appalled” by Maharashtra government’s “lack of political will” to put an end to custodial deaths and the state seems to be a “consensual party” to such incidents.
The HC had also noted that though officers are prosecuted in custodial death cases, they are generally acquitted.
( Source – PTI )