A court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, rejected the discharge applications filed by three senior IPS officers in a 1994 custodial torture case and said no sanction from the state government is required for their prosecution.
Metropolitan Magistrate H S Gandhi rejected the discharge pleas while acting on a private complaint filed by the wife of the victim, Salim Khan Pathan.
The IPS officers – A K Suroliya, Atul Karwal and Ashish Bhatia – had moved discharge pleas after they were summoned in the case. Suroliya is currently ADGP of Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad, Karwal is IG of CRPF, while Bhatia is Police Commissioner of Surat.
In the complaint, the trio and a sub-inspector of Sola Police Station, Ahmedabad, where Pathan was allegedly subjected to torture under custody, were named.
The court rejected the officers’ plea that Pathan was in legal custody of a sub-inspector, and not them. It also said no sanction was required from the state government for proceeding against them.
The complainant sought their prosecution under IPC Sections 326 (voluntarily causing hurt), 330 (voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession) and 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 114 (abettor present when offence is committed).
The court had initiated an inquiry in the case and as part of the process, summoned the three officials, who were serving as Deputy Commissioners in different police zones of Ahmedabad in 1994.
They appeared before the court and filed discharge applications, saying that being IPS officers, proceedings against them can only be initiated after sanction from the Gujarat government.
The officers argued that as public servants, they were only discharging official duty and so the court cannot take cognisance of the offence. They cited a rule under Section 197 of CrPC that requires the state government’s prior approval for such proceedings.
Pathan was arrested in a prohibition case and the IPS officers allegedly tortured him in custody in connection with a murder offence. They allegedly wanted to extract confession from him in the murder case.