The Bombay High Court Monday asked the state why the FIR on the death of an inmate at Byculla jail Manjula Shetye was filed by an inmate instead of the jail authorities. The court also directed the state to explain the reasons for the delay in taking Shetye to the hospital after she was allegedly assaulted by jail officials leading to her death.
The High Court has asked the government to file an affidavit in this matter. A division bench of Justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Pune resident Pradeep Bhalekar seeking that the probe into the death be transferred to an independent agency. The petitioner’s lawyer, Nitin Satpute, pointed out that there had been a delay of over 36 hours in registering an FIR after Shetye’s death on June 23.
The High Court has asked the government to explain why the inmates had to file FIR in the matter. “Should inmates be lodging FIRs against jail authorities? Why didn’t the jail authorities lodge a case of accidental death soon after her death?” questioned the court. “The affidavit will also have to respond to the petitioner’s request to include section 377 against the accused persons,” added the court.
It has further asked for an explanation, after going through the post-mortem report, on why there were so many injury marks on the body of the victim. “This is custodial death. Tell us what steps the jail officials took after her (Shetye) death. Why didn’t they (jail officials) take her to hospital?” asked the Bench. Additional Public Prosecutor Mankhuwar Deshmukh told the court that the case has already been transferred to the crime branch. Moreover, a departmental inquiry had also been initiated.
The court said it in no way wanted to interfere in the department inquiry. “We are not concerned with the ongoing inquiry. We know how such inquiries are conducted,” the court said. The bench has directed the state government to file its affidavit within two weeks. The petition, meanwhile, seeks “legal action against the Nagapada police for poor investigation and inaction on part of its officials who are probing Shetye’s death.” According to the petition filed, the Nagpada police is “fabricating and manipulating medical evidence in the case” and trying to destroy other evidence to “protect the Byculla jail authorities.”