Custodial violence a crime against humanity: Supreme Court orders guilty police officers to pay Rs. 3.5 lakh to the legal heirs of the deceased [Read Judgment]

 


The Supreme Court on Thursday(11.02.2021) comprising of a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Ajay Rastogi while affirming the conviction of two police officers who were found to have mercilessly beaten a man leading to his eventual death back in 1985 said that Custodial violence is abhorrent, not acceptable in civilised society and is a crime against humanity. (Pravat Chandra Mohanty and anr v. State of Odisha).

The bench upheld the conviction of the two police officers for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

While doing so, the Bench also directed them to pay Rs. 3.5 lakh to each of the legal heirs of the deceased.

Wanted To Stay Updated & keen to Gain Knowledge. Join us on Telegram Here. or What'sApp Here.


"The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilized society. The offence committed by the accused is crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution," the Court observed.

The Court further noted that it was a matter of concern for all that the present case involved the commission of an offence by the in-charge and a Senior Inspector of a Police Station.

Facts of the case

Pravat Chandra Mohanty and Pratap Kumar Chaudhary were convicted under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code. It was found that both the accused 'mercilessly beaten the deceased in the premises of the Police Station. This incident occurred in the year 1985.

A trial court found both policemen guilty in the criminal case registered over the accused death(Naik). Charges levelled against the two policemen for culpable homicide not amounting murder under Section 304 (Part II), IPC had been set aside earlier by the High Court in 2020. However, the conviction under Section 324, IPC was sustained. Before the High Court, the two accused men also volunteered to pay the victim compensation, upon which the High Court ordered the award of Rs 3 lakhs in favour of Naik's legal representatives.

Before the Apex Court where they challenged their conviction, the accused made a prayer to compound the offence in view of the settlement reached between them and the legal heirs of the deceased.

Contention of the parties

The counsel for the appellants contended that conviction under Section 324 IPC by the High Court is unsustainable. He submits that the conviction under Section 324 IPC deserves to be converted to the conviction under Section 323 IPC. He submits that the ingredients of Section 324 IPC are not made out from the evidence brought on record. He submits that injuries which were found on the body of the deceased were all simple injuries. He submits that weapon of offence being only a wooden batten/lathi which weapon was not likely to cause death, hence, conviction under Section 324 was unjustified. He further contends that either the offence be converted under Section 323 IPC or imprisonment be substituted by fine.

Courts Observation & Judgment

In appeal, the court observed that the offence committed by the accused is crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The bench noted, "Present is a case where the offence was committed by the in-charge of the Police Station, Purighat, as well as the Senior Inspector, posted at the same Police Station. The Police of State is protector of law and order. The people look forward to the Police to protect their life and property. People go to the Police Station with the hope that their person and property will be protected by the police and injustice and offence committed on them shall be redressed and the guilty be punished. When the protector of people and society himself instead of protecting the people adopts brutality and inhumanly beat the person who comes to the police station, it is a matter of great public concern...

The beating of a person in the Police Station is the concern for all and causes a sense of fear in the entire society...The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilized society."

The court observed that the composition of the offence in the facts of the present case is not permissible only on the agreement on the request of the accused - appellant which may be also accepted by the legal heirs of the deceased but composition is permissible only by the leave of the Court. However, taking note of the fact that they are aged above 75 years, the bench reduced the sentence awarded for conviction under Section 324 IPC to six months instead of one year.

Wanted To Stay Updated & keen to Gain Knowledge. Join us on Telegram Here. or What'sApp Here.


Post a Comment

0 Comments