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AN INQUIRY by an executive magistrate into the death of a 32-year-old convict in Nashik jail, who left a note in his abdomen alleging that he had been harassed by five prison officials, has concluded that there is no foul play. The convict’s father, Mumtaz Mansoori, however, alleged that his statement, recorded as part of the inquiry, where he is quoted to have said he has no complaints or suspicion against anyone, was incorrect. Mansoori has filed a writ petition before the Bombay High Court seeking an FIR against the five named officials and an inquiry by a judicial magistrate.
Asghar Mansoori, who was serving a life term in Nashik Central Jail, was found dead inside his cell on October 7 last year. The post-mortem revealed a note, suspected to have been swallowed by Asghar, naming five prison staffers. In the note, he alleged that these officials had harassed him. Since the death occurred in a custodial institution, an inquiry was initiated into it as per provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code under Section 176.
Assistant Collector of Nashik, Varsha Meena, who conducted the inquiry, said the terms of reference for the inquiry was to find out if there was anyone responsible for the custodial death. “The final inquiry report was conducted and it was based on evidence, including the statement of the deceased’s family member, who said there were no complaints made by him against any person before his death. There was no mischief found in the death,” Meena told The Indian Express.
Asked about the allegation that the father’s statement was not properly recorded, she denied it stating that there was no reason for her to change the contents, and that it was recorded as per what he said.
Mansoori claimed that he was summoned last month on February 26 and he was asked about the incident. “I told the official that I was informed that a note was found in my son’s abdomen during the post-mortem, and that it named prison five officials. My statement was not read out to me, but I was made to sign it and a copy was given to me later. I cannot read Marathi, so when I reached Mumbai and got it read out to me, I realised that the contents do not match with what I said,” Mumtaz said.
The copy given to him states that his son had not complained of any harassment by jail staffers or co-inmates, and that they do not suspect anyone and have no complaint against anyone. “We have no objection to the inquiry being closed,” the copy states, adding that it was read by Mansoori and agreed upon by him.
Asked about the names of the staffers mentioned in the note, Meena said it will be part of the inquiry by police. No FIR has been registered so far. Senior lawyer, Mihir Desai, representing the family before the High Court, said he had not received a copy of the inquiry and, hence, could not comment on its contents. He added that, as per provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, the inquiry should have been conducted by a judicial magistrate.
“We have sought an inquiry by a judicial magistrate as per Section 176A of the CrPC in the petition before the High Court,” Desai said. The section was amended to make provisions for a judicial inquiry instead of one by an executive magistrate.
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