Following the death of 40-year-old Zulfer Shaikh in Dharavi police station in November last year,Zulfers brother has questioned the arrest of two policemen as the charges do not include homicide despite the 21 injuries found on the body of the victim. Nurul Itwar Shaikh has urged the Bombay High Court to hand over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The policemen were arrested for voluntarily causing hurt.
Justices S C Dharmadhikari and S B Shukre asked the state government on Tuesday how it intended to proceed with the investigation and said,The general perception ought not to be that what happens in (police) custody is covered up. And we find that in some cases.
Nuruls petition states that on November 28,Zulfer,a delivery boy for a cosmetics shop,was allegedly stopped by two plainclothes policemen while on his way to Bandra in a taxi. The two men took Zulfer and the taxi driver to Dharavi police station where they allegedly seized Rs 60,000 that Zulfer was carrying to pay for a consignment.
Nurul claimed Zulfers son was told about the arrest the same evening and they went to Bandra metropolitan magistrate court on November 29 at 11 am. The police,however,did not produce Zulfer in court.
According to Nurul,the police said Zulfer and the taxi driver,Inamul Shaikh,were arrested for allegedly possessing fake Indian currency worth Rs 1.2 lakh and produced them before a court on November 30. The court remanded them to police custody till December 5,2012.
According to Inamuls statement,on December 2,Zulfer was suspended by his arm with a rope on the wall and assaulted with a wooden bat,a satyashodhak patta (truth-finding belt). The same day,when Nurul reached the station,he was told Zulfer was dead. However,Nurul,stated that the panchanama made no mention of the hook,the bat or the belt. Nuruls lawyers Yug Chaudhry and Neville Deboo told the court that the Crime Branch told the press that Zulfer had died of jaundice.
Chaudhry said the FIR in the case was registered on March 11,2013,after seeking a medical report. On May 20,2013,the Crime Branch filed a chargesheet against assistant inspector Irfan Shaikh and P N Shirkar,but they were not arrested.
The officers in their statements are justify the torture by saying the deceased was a hardened criminal. Is there a separate law for police officers? Chaudhry said.
Additional public prosecutor A S Gadkari said medical opinion was granted by a panel of doctors and not by a single doctor. Chaudhry said that if the medical reports said Zulfer had meningitis – a life-threatening disease,brutal torture would have accelerated his death. That would attract culpable homicide, Chaudhry said.
They are not just (police) officers if they have committed an offence. Should they not be tried? Is the matter going to rest with these (medical) reports? the court asked.
Gadkari sought time to seek instructions from the office of the Director General of Police. The case has been adjourned till August 5.
Citing data from the National Crime Records Bureau,Chaudhry said that between 1999-2012,Maharashtra recorded the highest number of custodial deaths in 13 of the 14 years. There has been no conviction in any case.
He also said that they fear the investigation carried out by ACP Praful Bhosale,an encounter specialist,would not be fair and above board.