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SC To Hear Petition Alleging Custodial Torture Of Lawyer & Activist Talib Hussain Tomorrow

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear a habeas corpus petition filed by a family member of Talib Hussain, who led the crusade for justice in the Kathua gang-rape and murder case, alleging that Talib has been brutally assaulted inside the Samba police station where he is in police remand on charges of rape and possession of weapons.

The matter was mentioned today by Advocate Sunil Fernandes before a Bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee today. The Court agreed to hear the matter tomorrow.

In January this year, an eight-year-old girl belonging to Bakarwal-Gujjar community was abducted, raped and murdered in Rassana village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district. Her body was recovered from Rassana forest in Kathua on 17 January, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

Talib, who is a lawyer and an activist, had led the demand for a fair probe in the case. It was the tireless efforts put in by him and a few other lawyers that the Supreme Court had transferred the trial to the District And Sessions Court, Pathankot in the state of Punjab, ordering the trial to be in-camera and on a day-to-day basis.

However, a few months later, Talib’s estranged wife registered a complaint against him accusing him of domestic violence and attempted murder. A month after that, a woman accused him of rape, leading to his arrest on August 2.

A petition has now been filed by Talib’s cousin Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, through Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, alleging that he has been subjected to “third degree torture of the worst kind, which has caused life-threatening injuries”. The claim is made on the basis of visits made by Talim’s lawyer and his family members to the jail where he is lodged.

The petition therefore asserts that if the Court does not expeditiously intervene in the matter, Talib is likely to either die in custody or incur such long term and permanent injuries so as to affect his right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It further alleges that the FIRs against Talib are attempts to punish him for his “crusading role as a social activist” in the Kathua rape case.

The petition thereafter demands that the State be directed to produce Talib before the Court, and also have his physical and mental health examined by a competent medical board. Subsequent to such examination, it demands that the officers involved in the custodial torture be punished, and Talib be awarded appropriate compensation.

The petition also demands that custodial torture and imparting third degree methods on the undertrial/ accused/ detenue/ detainee be held as vitiating the custody and rendering it illegal.

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