Bombay High Court, last week, sought inquiry related documents after a Nashik jail inmate died allegedly due to custodial torture. The court learned that the family was not informed whether a mandatory independent inquiry was even initiated into the death. The case is next scheduled for hearing on February 1.
The Division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Manish Pitale were hearing a petition filed by the family and People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) seeking independent committee to be set up to investigate the death in a time bound manner and also seeks FIR against prison officials named in the suicide note. The petition seeks that the prison officials also be suspended.
Asghar Ali Mansuri, a life convict, was found hanging in his punishment cell, a cell where convicts are placed due to their alleged behavior, on October 7, 2020. During his post mortem, a note was allegedly found lodged in his stomach blaming prison officials of severe torture. In the note it was mentioned that if anything happened to him (Mansuri), the officers named should be held responsible and also stated that he was harassed by them. An accidental death record was filed by Nashik police but no FIR has yet been filed.
As per LiveLaw, the Public Prosecutor submitted that an inquiry had already been initiated under section 176(1A) of CrPC and that the Human Rights Commission had also initiated inquiry into the incident.
Justice Pitale asked about the outcome of the inquiry since it had already been three months since the incident, the prosecutor asked for two week’s time to produce the same. The court observed that the family should have been allowed to participate in the inquiry.
Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, appearing for petitioner, submitted that if there is an inquiry they should be allowed to intervene. He submitted that the family was completely unaware of any inquiry being carried out.
After Mansuri’s death at least five prisoners wrote a letter detailing the harassment faced by Mansuri and sought their statements to be recorded by the Magistrate. The petition also seeks protection of these five prisoners and that they be shifted to another prison as their statements are yet to be recorded. The family suspects foul play since Mansuri was kept in a separate cell for over 6 months as “punishment” in violation of prison rules.
The order may be read here.