GRANTING BAIL to four constables booked for the alleged custodial death of a 22-year-old man during lockdown, the sessions court said there is no evidence to show that they had the intention to cause death or fatal injury. The court also said it was “highly doubtful” if other sections of rioting and unlawful assembly could be made against the accused.
“… (as per) the case in hand, the applicants brutally assaulted the deceased by fibre sticks, which (is) used in the police department for maintaining law and order. However, the materials on record against the accused do not show that they intended to cause the death of the deceased or intended to cause bodily injuries as they knew is likely to cause his death…” the court said.
It took into account the chargesheet filed against the four last month, which dropped the murder charge against them, but retained Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. A lack of intention to cause death under this section attracts the maximum punishment of 10 years.
Raju Devendra died on March 29 with the special investigation team (SIT) claiming that the police assaulted him with fibre batons. The four constables had claimed that Devendra died due to injuries caused to him by a mob after he was caught stealing. Apart from the four constables, the chargesheet also names at least 20 others for the assault.
The Dindoshi sessions court on Tuesday granted bail to the four constables, Santosh Desai, Digambar Chavan, Ananda Gaikwad and Ankush Palve, arrested in September. In its detailed order made available on Thursday, the court also considered other evidence put forth by the SIT.
The court considered statements of 97 witnesses recorded by the SIT, observing that there were inconsistencies in some with regard to the incident. While one forensic report dated July 22 stated that a death was “less likely” to be caused through assault by fibre batons, the court also considered a post-mortem report that showed 68 injuries on Devendra’s body.
The court also considered CCTV footage, in which the four police personnel can be spotted assaulting Devendra with their fibre batons. The accused claimed that they did not hit Devendra but were only pretending to do so to make him return home as a lockdown was in place, but the court refused to accept the submission relying on the footage.
The court said since the main evidence relied on by the prosecution was CCTV footage, there was no scope for the accused to tamper with evidence. The court also said since they are under suspension, there is no question of them absconding while allowing them bail.6km-+*
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