In a significant development, the State has informed the Bombay High Court that four policemen who assaulted a 22-year-old man in Vile Parle on March 29 during lockdown, have been identified through CCTV footage.
Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai were hearing a PIL filed by a lawyer Firdaus Irani who highlighted cases of police brutality during the lockdown seeking directions to the police.
As the petitioner also cited a news report regarding the death of a 22-year-old man who was assaulted by police officials on March 29, Court in the previous hearing on July 17 directed Dattatray Pandurang Bhargude, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Bandra Division to inform whether the allegation of the petitioner that the deceased succumbed to the injuries inflicted by the police, is made out or not.
On Thursday, a status report was submitted stating that four policemen have been identified in relation to the allegedly fatal assault. Moreover, appearing on behalf of the State, Government Pleader Poornima Kantharia submitted that she has personally viewed the CCTV footage and did not find any member of the public being part of any mob assaulting the deceased; on the contrary, the four policemen, referred to above, are seen to have used fiber lathis in a bid to discipline the deceased.
However, GP Kantharia pointed out that whether the deceased succumbed to the injuries inflicted by reason of such assault by fiber lathis is a matter which needs further investigation.
The bench noted-
"It is indeed distressing to note that from April 18, 2020 till July 10, 2020, no investigation was embarked upon by the Assistant Commissioner of Police. We, however, find towards the concluding portion of the status report an assurance on his part that he will conduct the investigation fairly and complete the same as expeditiously as possible."
Thus, Court directed the Assistant Commissioner of Police to proceed with the investigation, in the manner as directed in the previous order, and to file a further status report before August 5 on the progress made towards conclusion of investigation and filing of police report under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Also, the decision taken on the proposal to draw up departmental proceedings against the four policemen may be included in the status report, Court said.
Furthermore, the bench concluded that it is evident from the status report that the mother and the brother of the deceased, who are vital witnesses, have not cooperated with the investigation and practically stayed away from having their statements under Section 164 CrPC recorded.
Court then directed the Assistant Commissioner of Police to issue further notice under Section 160 to the mother and brother of the accused so that they cooperate in further progress of investigation by having their statements recorded.
The next date of hearing in the matter is August 06, 2020.
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