The Mmbai Police on Friday denied allegations of instances of deaths due to police brutality during lockdown period that was made in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by a lawyer seeking directions against police authorities for the same.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N J Jamadar on Friday heard through videoconference, a PIL by advocate Firdause Irani, a resident of Goregaon, through advocate Bahraiz Irani, seeking urgent intervention of the court in view of alleged police brutality in enforcing coronavirus lockdown.
The PIL sought directions from the Court to the authorities to implement necessary measures to address complaints of Mumbai residents against alleged acts of Police brutality and seeks details of action taken against errant police officers.
The petitioner said that the plea was filed in larger public interest and that he was concerned about lack of security and safety of citizens in view of the pandemic situation.
Irani had claimed that he, along with his family were unnecessarily assaulted by police and civic officials outside their residence at Goregaon (West) on April 16. Citing a human rights organisation report, he had alleged that there had been instances of police brutality leading to 15 deaths, out of which 2 were from Mumbai. The HC, on June 30 had asked the Police to file reports to the incidents of alleged police excesses.
The Mumbai Police filed two affidavits dealing with the instances of alleged police torture and harassment reported by a human rights organisation called the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiatives as cited by the petitioner.
First affidavit filed through Iqbal Gani Avalkar, inspector at J J Marg Police station denied allegations that a porter was stopped and assaulted by Police officials enforcing lockdown in south Mumbai and he later succumbed to injuries.
Avalkar, citing CCTV footage as evidence, stated that one Sameer Jamal Khan, a porter, who was carrying a refrigerator and two bundles of clothes on a handcart to Null Bazaar was not stopped by any Police official.
Another affidavit filed by Dattatray Bhargude, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Bandra Division refuted claims on death of one Raju Velu Devendra and stated that investigation into his death could not proceed as his family members did not come forward to record their statements, despite repeated requests.
Bhargude also said that he was unable to summon eyewitnesses, as the spot in Juhu where the incident took place has been declared as a containment zone.
After hearing submissions and taking affidavits on record, the Court directed the state government to file an affidavit dealing in detail the issues raised in the PIL within ten days and the granted time to the petitioner to file rejoinder to the state and Mumbai Police’s affidavits thereafter and posted further hearing after two weeks.
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