Srinagar: The J&K High Court has disposed of a Public Interest Litigation seeking investigation into the ‘custodial’ killing of a Kupwara man by CBI and judicial commission headed by sitting judge as well as police reforms and end to “archaic autocratic laws.”
Nazir Ahmad Mughal, father of five children, was killed allegedly in police custody last month.
Mughal’s death had sparked massive protests in the north Kashmir district for four days, prompting the authorities to order a magisterial inquiry into the killing amid arrest of three cops.
“At the moment, the Sessions Judge Kupwara, being in seisin of the matter, it will not be appropriate to interject the proceedings by this Court,” said a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey, disposing of a PIL filed by an NGO, Khawaab Foundation, through advocate Dar Rashid.
A resident of Gujjarpati Zirhama, Mughal’s widow is represented before the Sessions Court by president of Kupwara Bar Association.
Rashid submitted that although the accused persons have been named in the FIR (41/2015—u/s RPC sections of 223 224 and 302), all of them have not been arrested till date and it is for the reason that the PIL has been filed so as to ensure that all the accused are arrested.
“When a complaint is lodged before the concerned police station, which discloses commission of cognizable offence, then it becomes duty of the police to register a case. If the Investigation Officer has reason to suspect commission of cognizable offence, then he has to proceed with the investigation which includes arrest of the accused person(s) as well,” the bench said and directed the petitioner that for any grievance at this stage, he can approach the Sessions Court by laying appropriate motion.
“The Sessions Judge would consider the same and pass orders in accordance with law,” the bench said and held the PIL was not maintainable contemporarily.
At the same time, the division bench said that if the petitioner would be aggrieved by the orders of the Sessions Judge Kupwara, then he can file appropriate proceedings as permissible by law.
Police spokesman had said that on February 10, that Mughal, who was in police custody in connection with some case, complained of chest pain and was shifted to District Hospital, Kupwara for treatment. “(Mughal) was attended by District Hospital doctors and after few hours he gave slip to police in the garb of attending the call of nature in the bathroom of the hospital. Instantly the search was conducted to trace him out and next morning his body was found near the compound wall of district hospital,” the spokesman had said. However, the statement was rejected by the family who blamed cops for killing Mughal in custody.
Besides probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Judicial commission, the petitioner had also sought directions to the Government to ensure that the guidelines laid down by Supreme Court were implemented within a stipulated time.
“There is need of an impartial enquiry into the custodial killing in question by an independent agency like CBI or Judicial commission rather than by police or any executive magistrate to bring the culprits to books, as executive magistrates work under the influence of local police and police officials seek backdated remands whenever they feel that they have violated provisions of CrPC.”
It also demanded initiatives for police reforms to be taken in a fixed time period as well as directions to the state government to amend the “archaic autocratic laws related to police in consonance with the rights of citizens.”
The petitioner also demanded constitution special committee of two Retired Judges to seek the details of magisterial enquiries conducted in last thirty years and to oversee the implementation of the reports by home department.
“Also all the tainted officers who have committed human rights violations should be taken off the field and retired voluntarily,” the petitioner had demanded.
It had sought direction upon the subordinate judiciary and officers to seek the status reports mandatorily through prosecuting officers in bail pleas and other criminal application within a stipulated time to curb the corruption and demand of grafts by investigating officers.
Lastly, it had sought directions for installing CCTV cameras within the lockups and public dealing chambers of police stations so as to safeguard rights and curb corrupt practices.