Three years after he was thrashed mercilessly by two policemen inside a police lockup for reportedly drinking beer in public with friends, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has directed the Maharashtra Police to pay the 31-year-old victim a total of Rs 5 lakh in compensation.
Taking note of the “humiliating treatment, including physical and mental trauma”, the victim was subjected to, the commission has also directed the state police to “infuse basic human values” in the force.
On June 10, 2016, while Aditya Dongare and his three friends were returning home in the early hours, Sub Inspector Surendra Shivade and Constable Vinod Raut, who were posted on night patrol in civil clothes at Tulinj police station in Nallasopara east, forcibly took them to the police station and held Dongare in custody without formally charging him for any offence.
The policemen allegedly dragged Dongare to the detection room and assaulted him with a belt, a fibre lathi and broke his mobile phone. Dongare and his friends were allowed to go several hours later even as no complaint was registered against them.
Following a month’s relentless pressure by the families of the three men, who sat on strike outside the police station premises, an FIR was registered against Shivade and Raut under the Indian Penal Code for kidnapping, causing hurt, and damaging his property.
MSHRC acting chairman and member M A Sayeed noted in a recent order that the factual background is unfortunately surrounded “with the usual case of apathy, misuse of power by none other than the officers of the law enforcing agency, who in face are alleged to have assumed the role of law breakers”.
Immediately after the registration of the FIR, Shivade and Raut faced a departmental inquiry and were imposed the penalty of a two-year stoppage in increment. However, after the officials filed an appeal to the higher authorities, the penalty was reduced to a paltry fine of Rs 100 each.
The MSHRC also expressed dismay at the slow pace of the investigation against the officials, with the police not having responded to Dongare’s pleas to have his statement recorded and accept vital evidence, which included his broken mobile phone and a blood-stained T-shirt that he was wearing at that time.
“There cannot be any dispute that a victim is entitled to a fair and prompt investigation of a crime of such serious nature, which in the present case seems to have been done away (with) by these officers, which amounts to violation of their (victim’s) human rights. Thus, slow and shady investigation, coupled with delay in registration of FIR, does indicate the attempts to safeguard the interest of the real culprits in the crime,” Sayeed stated in the order.
The commission also directed the Director General of Police, Maharashtra, to frame guidelines to “check abuse of police power” by focusing on transparency of action, accountability, infusing basic human values and making members of the police force “sensitive” to the constitutional ethos.