Six policemen, who are accused in the alleged custodial death of a 65-year-old migrant worker, were booked for murder on Tuesday following directions of the Gujarat High Court.
The six Vadodara policemen were booked for the murder of Babu Sheikh Nisar, a migrant worker from Telengana, who went missing in December last year after being picked up on an alleged theft charge, by the Vadodara city police.
The move came a day after the high court, while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Nisar’s son Salim, enquired why the accused were charged with IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) instead of Section 302 (culpable homicide amounting to murder). The court on Tuesday directed the Vadodara police to book the accused for murder.
On Tuesday afternoon, Vadodara police booked the six policemen at Fatehgunj police station for culpable homicide amounting to murder. The bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and NV Anjaria, which was hearing the petition, had granted a week’s time after the Tuesday’s direction to do the same.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), E Division, Vadodara Police, SG Patil, who is the complainant in the FIR and also heading the investigation, told The Indian Express, “They (the high court) questioned the reason behind booking the accused under IPC Section 304 and said that they feel we (Vadodara police) are trying to shield the accused. We placed before the court our argument that the case would eventually fall under Section 304 as the intent of the accused is significant. They must not have intended to kill the victim while in custody but the victim died because they tortured him. It is a differentiating factor between the two sections. But since the honourable court suggested that we should book the accused under Section 302, we have submitted a report to the local court and made the change.”
Advocate K I Kazi, representing the petitioner, said, “There was extended arguments on Monday and Tuesday on the application of IPC Section 304 and ACP Patil as well as the additional public prosecutor made their oral submissions pertaining to the same. The court was of the opinion that first Section 302 needs to apply and over the course of trial can the court, based on the surrounding circumstances of the offence, decide if section 304 may apply. There was also discussion on providing the family with compensation.”
Nisar from Kamareddy district in Telangana, who was selling clothes on his bicycle in Vadodara, was picked up by Fatehgunj police on December 10, 2019, as a suspect in a theft case. He was allegedly tortured in the police station and went missing since.
The family filed a missing complaint on January 25 and an FIR was lodged on July 6 owing to a habeas corpus petition moved by Nisar’s son and the subsequent court intervention.
A complaint was filed by ACP S G Patil against police inspector DB Gohil, police sub-inspector DM Rabari and Lok Rakshak Dal jawans Pankaj Mavjibhai, Yogendra Jilansinh, Rajiv Savjibhai and Hitesh Shambubhai were originally booked under IPC sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 203 (giving false information respecting an offence committed), 204 (destruction of 1[document or electronic record] to prevent its production as evidence) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Follwing the court’s direction, Vadodara police on Tuesday moved an application before the Judicial Magistrate seeking a change in the IPC sections in the FIR against the six accused to include Section 302.
Patil said that the Vadodara police has formed several teams to track down the six accused, who are on the run.
Kazi added that with an HC order, the change must apply. “Otherwise in cases where an addition or modification in charge mentioned in an FIR is required, the investigation body has to submit a report to this effect to the magistrate, who then examines it,” added Kazi.
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