A METROPOLITAN magistrate will probe the death of a 17-year-old boy, who died at JJ Hospital in Mumbai on April 14 after he was apprehended by the police on the suspicion of theft, the Bombay High Court has been informed. On the orders of the chief metropolitan magistrate, the metropolitan magistrate of the 69th court in Sewri court will conduct the inquiry as per provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code in regard to custodial deaths, the High Court was informed on April 19.
It was hearing a writ petition filed by the mother of the boy, seeking an impartial inquiry and the registration of an FIR into
the incident. The boy was apprehended by the Kurla Railway Protection Force on April 4 and sent to the Dongri Observation Home the same day.
He was taken to JJ Hospital on April 11 after he complained of breathlessness. His mother had alleged that the boy was assaulted while he was in custody of the Kurla Railway Protection Force and that despite his complaints about ill-health, he was not immediately taken to the hospital by the home authorities.
During the hearing before the HC last week, the prosecution had submitted a letter addressed to the magistrate by the Dongri police’s senior inspector, which stated that since the boy was in the custody of the observation home before his death,
an inquiry under Section 176 (inquiry by magistrate into cause of death) of the CrPC must be initiated.
The HC was informed that the magistrate had initially refused to take cognizance of the letter on the ground that no order can be passed with regard to an inquiry in respect of a juvenile. The police then again approached the chief metropolitan magistrate, who then directed the magistrate to conduct the inquiry. The high court said that the concerned police is expected to furnish all necessary material required for the inquiry.
Also, the court said that the issues raised by the juvenile’s mother can be presented before the magistrate conducting
the probe. “The petitioner (mother) would be entitled to participate in the inquiry before the learned metropolitan magistrate, 69th court, Mumbai,” it said while directing that a status report on the inquiry be submitted before it during the next hearing.
The report of the postmortem examination conducted at JJ Hospital had said that the boy died from acute respiratory distress syndrome in a case of cardiac failure. It had added that the death was due to septicemia caused by tuberculosis.