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DUE TO the failure of the Chandigarh administration to complete the inquest proceedings of a convict, who had died an unnatural death inside Model Burail Jail in January last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued summons to Chandigarh District Magistrate Ajit Balaji Joshi, SSP Eish Singhal, Burail Jail Superintendent SK Chahal and SHO of Sector-34 police station, Inspector Paramjit Kaur. Justice Fateh Deep Singh was surprised to know that even 14 months after the unnatural death of the convict inside the Burail jail, the authorities had not been able to complete the inquest proceedings despite being presented with several opportunities by the court. Inquest proceeding is conducted as per Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, to ascertain the apparent cause of death and whether it was accidental, suicidal or homicidal. The inquest report has to be submitted by the police officer to the concerned district magistrate.
A resident of Sector-45, Ajay alias Bheem, was convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by the Chandigarh district courts in September 2015 for theft and habitually dealing in stolen property cases. Bheem had then moved the HC through counsel Ravinder Kaur Manaise in October 2015, seeking suspension of his sentence. During the pendency of the case in the High Court, he died an unnatural death in Burail jail in January 2016. When in June last year, during the resumed hearing of the case, Chandigarh’s additional public prosecutor informed the court that Bheem had died, the court had summoned the case record from the SHO of Sector-34 PS as well as from Burail jail. But, when the authorities failed to produce the record continuously for three case hearings, the court summoned then SHO of Sector-34 PS,
Inspector Baljit Singh, and attached his salary. It was then, a year after the death of the convict, that the SHO submitted the case documents in court in January this year but the final conclusive inquest proceedings were not prepared. Again, on March 22, Chandigarh’s additional public prosecutor informed the court that till date no inquest as per the mandate of law had been carried out. Justice Singh then expressed displeasure and said that the fact impels the court to issue notices to the Burail Jail Superintendent, SSP and the DM to appear in court in person on March 29. Thereafter, on March 29, though all the other officers appeared in court in person, DM Ajit Balaji Joshi failed to come since he was out of station. The officers, though, did not submit any report but informed the court that the inquest report was ready. Now, the court has directed all the officers, including Joshi, to be present in court on April 19 along with the inquest report and other records.