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Bombay High Court Seeks Details Of Inquiry Into Nashik Prison Custodial Death Case

Sharmeen Hakim
21 Jan 2021 4:07 AM GMT
Bombay High Court Seeks Details Of Inquiry Into Nashik Prison Custodial Death Case
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The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, sought all inquiry documents related to the death of an inmate in the Nashik Central prison after the court learned that the family was not informed if a mandatory independent inquiry was even initiated into the 32-year-old's death. A note allegedly blaming prison officials of severe torture was found neatly wrapped in plastic inside the life...

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The Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, sought all inquiry documents related to the death of an inmate in the Nashik Central prison after the court learned that the family was not informed if a mandatory independent inquiry was even initiated into the 32-year-old's death.

A note allegedly blaming prison officials of severe torture was found neatly wrapped in plastic inside the life convict, Asghar Ali Mansuri's stomach during his post mortem. He was found hanging on October 7, 2020 inside the punishment cell of the prison – meant for convicts who were segregated due their alleged behaviour.

A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale were hearing a petition filed by Mansoori's father Mumtaz Mohammed Mansuri and People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) seeking setting up of an independent committee to investigate into the circumstances in which the man died as well as registration of an FIR against prison officials named in the suicide note.

Additional Public Prosecutor JP Yagnik submitted that he had taken instructions and learned that a mandatory judicial inquiry under section 176(1A) of the Criminal Procedure Code had been initiated. He further said that the Human Rights Commission has also initiated an inquiry into the incident.

Justice Manish Pitale then sought to know if the inquires were completed. When informed of the passage of three months since the incident, the judge observed, "This is enough time for them to complete the inquiry."

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai appearing on behalf of the petitioners submitted that all he wanted right now was information regarding the investigation into his son's death. "If there is an inquiry, I may want to intervene. Share whatever is permissible. There are five people in prison who have said he was tortured."

Justice Pitale then observed that under section 176(4) of the CrPC the family was allowed to participate in the inquiry. "Ideally the father should have been involved," the court observed.

The bench directed that all the documents of inquiries into the custodial death of Mansuri be placed on the record and adjourned the matter for February 1.

Mansuri's note allegedly mentioned that if anything happened to him the officers (named in his note) should be held responsible.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai said he only wanted to k that the family was unaware about any inquiry into the 32-year-old convict's death.

A writ petition was filed by the father of a 32-year-old convict, who died by suicide in Nashik central prison last month, seeking the registration of an FIR against the five prison officials named by him in the suicide note.

Asgharali Mansoori was found dead in a cell of the jail on October 7. During the postmortem, a note was found in his abdomen, which named five officials, stating that he was harassed by them. The petition filed by Mansoori's father, Mumtaz, and People's Union for Civil Liberties, states that as his father he has the right to know the circumstances that led to the death of his son. While an Accidental Death Record was filed by the Nashik police, an FIR is yet to be filed.

The petition seeks that the allegations in the note be thoroughly investigated in a time-bound manner and the prison officials be suspended. The petition also seeks that an independent and impartial body probe into the incident.

After his death, at least five prisoners lodged at the jail had also written a letter detailing the alleged harassment Mansoori faced. They had also sought for their statements to be recorded by the magistrate.

The petition says that their statements were not recorded by the police yet and sought that they should be provided protection and shifted to another jail in the state. The petition says that the family suspects foul play including the fact that Mansoori was kept in a separate cell for six months as "punishment" in violation of prison rules.

Mansoori was convicted in a murder case and had spent nearly 14 years in jail. The petition says that not investigating the death is a violation of fundamental rights. The petition has named the state Home department and the SP of Nashik jail as respondents.

Independent Commission of inquiry to determine the nature and causes of the death of his son Asgar Ali Mansoori in Nashik Central Prison.



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