The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra director general of police to form a committee and submit a preliminary report within two weeks stating why the number of custodial deaths had been on the rise. The court was hearing a petition filed by the family of Kandivali (east) resident Akash Kharade, who allegedly died in police custody under mysterious circumstances after he was arrested by the Samta Nagar police in connection with a murder case.
On Tuesday, the state government told the high court that five police officers from Samta Nagar police station, who were allegedly involved in the custodial death of Kharade, were placed under suspension. The affidavit filed by investigating officer Avinash Sawant from the crime branch CID, Kandivali, told the court that the five officers – Santosh Borate, Anil Surve, Surendra Nagavekar, Rajendra Chavan and Ganesh Salunkhe – were suspended based on an order dated June 16.
While the police earlier claimed that Akash died of injuries he sustained after he slipped on the floor near the lock-up’s toilet, his family alleged foul play, stating that it was a case of custodial torture. “The act of inflicting excruciating pain to get information or as sheer cruelty is nothing but genocide, which is neither permitted by the law of the nation, nor by the laws of humanity,” said the petition filed by Akash’s family through lawyers Husen Shaikh and Shantanu Phanse.
The petition also said that Akash had surrendered before unit XII of the Mumbai police crime branch on April 18 after an FIR was registered against him the previous day. “Around 9.30 pm, police officials from Samta Nagar police station arrested him. He, along with, two others, were produced before the magistrate court, which remanded them in four-day police custody,” the petition added.