Observing that police atrocities, specifically “third degree torture”, forced a 22-year-old man to allegedly commit suicide in police custody in Akola, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has asked the state home department to pay compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased, Nilesh Atamam Dhool.
The commission also directed the Director General of Police (DGP) to consider initiating an inquiry against all officers concerned and gave specific direction on training of officers in use of third degree torture.
On March 14, 2008, Dhool allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in the toilet of a police lock-up in the village of Hiwarkhed, a day after his arrest in a case of kidnapping. In its probe, the CID found that the police had made no entry of his arrest in station records.
“Evidence shows there was some attempt of demanding bribe by police to release the deceased.Moreover it appears that the deceased was assaulted mercilessly. This is fortified by the autopsy report where number of ante-mortem injuries have been noticed by doctors,” the commission said in its judgment.
The commission, based on the sub-divisional magistrate’s inquiry, found that the police also attempted to cover up the incident. The CID filed a chargesheet in the case naming sub-inspector Shivaji Bendre for abetment of suicide, wrongful confinement and voluntarily causing hurt.
The human rights commission, however, noted that there is failure to register proper offences against the sub-inspector and role of other police officers in the suicide has been ignored. “There is even enough suspicion to question if deceased committed suicide because of torture and third degree used by police,” the order says.
The autopsy findings suggested that hanging could have been orchestrated after the death to make it look like a suicide. The commission recommended that Section 304 (culpable homicide) should be added in the chargesheet based on evidence.
The MSHRC bench of Justice S R Bannumath and Justice M A Sayeed directed the DGP to sensitise the police on illegal use of third degree methods prohibited under international conventions and initiate departmental inquiry against all police officers involved in the case in Hiwarkhed police station. It also directed the home department to award a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the family of the deceased within six weeks.
In the past three months, it is the third case of custodial death in which the commission has found the police negligent. In October, the commission had ordered compensation of Rs 1 lakh to be paid to the family of Hari Chavan, who allegedly committed suicide in Malvani police station in 2015.
The incident had gone unnoticed by the police until Chavan’s daughter visited the police station and found him dead in a room. Two police officers were held responsible for being negligent.
In November, the commission had ordered a compensation of Rs 50,000 to be paid to the family of Bharat Yadav, who was allegedly beaten to death in a Nagpur court when he was produced for a trial in 2004.
The commission observed that in the absence of police security, a mob inflicted 73 injuries on Yadav leading to
his death on the court premises. While Yadav, the MSHRC observed, was a known “notorious criminal”, his human rights were violated when the police failed to provide him with protection against mob fury.