The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench last month granted ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the father of a 16-year-old boy, who was picked up by the police for alleged pick-pocketing at Shirdi temple and died in the custody of Shirdi police station in March, 2016.
“It is crystal clear that (the boy) died in police lock up… We arrived at the conclusion that it is a case of custodial death at the hands of police officials of Shirdi police station. The prayer for ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh needs to be granted to the unfortunate father/petitioner,” a division bench of Justice Tanaji V Nalawade and Justice Shrikant D Kulkarni said on November 26.
“Custodial violence has always been a matter of great concern for all civilised societies. There must be a great degree of sensibility amongst police officials with regard to the persons, who are arrested and kept in custody,” the bench added.
The court was hearing a criminal writ plea filed by the father of deceased, seeking compensation of Rs 10 lakh and registration of an FIR against guilty police officers. The father also sought to add IPC Section 302 (murder) in the FIR.
Advocate S S Chapalgaonkar, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that on March 31, 2016, his client’s family rushed to the police station after they learnt that an officer had taken the 16-year-old there. He added that the family saw the teenager sitting on the floor inside the police station with an officer asking him questions. After some time, the officer was seen by the family putting a sack covered in blanket in a police vehicle, Chapalgaonkar said, adding that the family suspected that the boy was in the sack. The father followed the vehicle and reached Saibaba hospital, where he came to know that his son was dead.
Additional Public Prosecutor G O Wattamwar said the inquiry has revealed that it was a case of “suicidal death”.
The HC said the state government was at liberty to recover a compensation from the erring officers as and when the liability for crime in question is confirmed.
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