SC frowns on custodial deaths

Upholds conviction of 8 police personnel

’Though several constitutional and statutory provisions have been enacted to safeguard the personal liberty and life of citizens, incidents of torture and death in the police custody are ever on the rise,’’ said a Bench of Justices H S Bedi and J M Panchal while convicting eight police officials from Karnataka.

The judgment released here on Thursday, even though delivered earlier, said in spite of condemnation of such acts by the Apex Court and the High Courts, certain police officials resort to gruesome torture and death of accused in police custody.

The police had picked up deceased Gurumurthy and Rajkumar on January 13, 1988 for investigation of a case pertaining to a drinking brawl between them and the students from an engineering college on the night of new year day at Shilpa Bar.  They had also arrested Nallakumar, Prakash and Purushottam, the friends of Gurumurthy.

Convicted by HC

The Karnataka High Court, which held the police officials guilty, awarded one-year rigorous imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on each. It had also ordered that in default of payment of fine, the convicts would undergo a sentence of two years imprisonment. The fine money is to be distributed between the family of the victims.

The Apex Court upheld the conviction of the police officials - seven constables and a head constable attached to Doddapet Police Station at Shimoga. ‘’What is distressing to note is that the incidents of torture and death in the police custody take place under the shield of uniform and authority, in the four walls of a police station or in the lock-up, where the victims are totally helpless,’’ said the judgement.

With a sense of grief, the Bench wrote, ‘’There is no manner of doubt that these are the most heinous crimes committed by persons, who claim to be the protectors of the citizens.’’

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