The Aurangabad Division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprised of Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and Abhay Waghwase who ordered the State government on Wednesday to pay a compensation amounting to more than Rs. 15 Lakhs to the kin of a man who died in police custody. [Sunita Kalyan Kute v. State of Maharashtra]
Facts of the Case:
Mrs. Sunita (Petitioner) had a 23-year-old son, Pradip Kute, who died at the hands of the police for their atrocity. They were Mr. Dashrath Kumbhar (Respondent No.4) and Mr. Deepak Kshirsagar (Respondent No. 5). Hence, she filed a writ petition to claim a compensation of Rs. 40,00,000/- (Rupees Forty Lakh Only) by Respondent No. 1 to 3 i.e. The State of Maharashtra, The Superintendent of Police and The Police Inspector of Solapur District but more particularly by Respondent No. 4 and 5. She also prayed to the High Court for disciplinary action against Respondents No. 4 and 5.
On 4th November 2018, Pradip along with his wife Sunanda and cousin brother Bhimrao were transporting sugarcane from his tractor. Around 3:30 p.m. when they were proceeding from Police Station Check Post, their tractor was intercepted by Respondent No. 4 and 5 and two more persons. They began to assault Pradip for playing the tape recorder at a high volume in the tractor. Due to severe beatings, Pradip passed away on the spot. The Police had taken him to Madha Hospital, where he was declared dead.
The petitioner stated that the incident was witnessed by the deceased’s wife, cousin, one Abhijeet Parde, Chandrakant Mane, and the petitioner herself. On 5th November 2018 she lodged a report with the Madha Police Station, Solapur against Respondent 4 and 5 on grounds of Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The Post-mortem Report stated the cause of death to be “head injury with compression of the neck with injury to both lungs”, along with 43 injury marks. After the investigation was completed a chargesheet was filed. The Petitioner further stated that her son died due to unnatural death caused by the illegal detention by the Police and this resulted in custodial death.
The learned Advocate from the Petitioner’s side had taken through the First Information Report and the statement of witnesses. The statement of witness Channdrakant showed that He was near the check post when the sugarcane-filled tractor driven by Pradip was going towards the factory and Mr. Kumbhar (Respondent No. 4) was holding a 3-4 feet long stick and started to assault Pradip with it on his legs, back and neck while Mr. Kshirsagar (Respondent No. 5) was assaulting Pradip by his hands. After which they dragged Pradip, who was unconscious at that time, and took him to the hospital in a Swift car.
The learned Advocate presented the report dated 17th April 2019 as evidence that indicated the death of Pradip occurred when he was in the custody of the said respondents and the death is homicidal. Since the Petitioner (Mother) was solely dependent on her son Pradip she must be compensated.
The Learned Advocate appearing on behalf of Respondents 4 and 5 contended that they had no motive to kill the deceased and that he felt dizzy and was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead. There was no external injury found rather the Medical Officer Dr. Arti clarified that Pradip had a brain disease as a result of which he passed away. The statement of Assistant Police Inspector Mr. Dattaraya shows that the relatives had forcibly taken the dead body resulting in those injuries. The Learned Advocate concluded by stating that the death of Pradip did not occur in the custody of Respondents 4 and 5. Hence, the Petitioner does not have a right to claim compensation.
The Bench was of the opinion that the Postmortem Report and the statement of witnesses clearly indicated that all the 43 external injuries were fresh and occurred within 24 hours of the incident. That those injuries were inflicted by Respondents 4 and 5 when Pradip was sitting on the tractor, then he was taken inside the Check Post and therefore this amounts to ‘custodial death’.
The excerpts from the judgment read out:
“There was no reason for respondent Nos.4 and 5 to intercept the tractor driven by Pradip, even if they were having some objection regarding the sound they could have told the same to Pradip in a dignified manner. When there was no reason for interception and then no reason for police atrocities, there is violation of fundamental rights of the deceased. Therefore, grant of compensation in a proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the established violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is an exercise of the Courts under the public law jurisdiction for penalizing the wrong doer and fixing the liability for the public wrong on the State which failed in the discharge of its public duty to protect the fundamental rights of the citizen.”
The Order passed by Court was that Respondent No. 1 to 5 to pay compensation of Rs. 15,29,600/- (Rupees Fifteen Lakh Twenty Nine Thousand and Six Hundred Only). The Amount is to be deposited by the State within two months failure to which an interest of 6% per annum will be carried till the actual realization of the entire amount.
Source: Bar and Bench