Saturday, May 3, 2014

Petition seeks judicial inquiry into alleged torture in police custody

GANGTOK, 02 May: The High Court of Sikkim has issued notice to respondents including the Sikkim Police in a case concerning alleged torture of a juvenile in police custody in the run up to the elections.
Chief Justice NK Jain took up the matter after hearing the plea of counsel Dr. Doma Bhutia that this was a grave matter concerning human rights violation and non-implementation of DK Basu’s guidelines as per the order of the apex court. These guidelines pertain to the constitution of a panel of approved doctors to examine arrested persons during their detention in police custody. The arrestees have to be examined every 48 hours.
The petition also alleges violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. A judicial inquiry into the alleged torture has been sought.
The petition has been filed by Prem Kumar Rai of Lower Barfok, Gyalshing, West Sikkim. He is a national-level boxer. He alleges torture by the police when he was arrested along with 2 others in Gyalshing on 08 March. The resultant injuries are said to have been recorded in the medical examination report of the Gyalshing district hospital.
In fact, as contended by Mr. Rai, who was at the time of his arrest under 18 years of age, was not involved in any party activity but was picked up by the police as he was present outside the SKM party office where a meeting was taking place. On being picked up he told the police that he was a sportsperson and not involved in any party or political activity.
Two others arrested along with him were namely Chandan Gurung and Narendra Pradhan also of Gyalshing. These two are also petitioners. Among the respondents are the Secretaries Home and Health departments and the Director General of Police.
The three were reportedly on their way to a public meeting on 08 March at the SKM party and were stopped by one of the respondents, an SI of Gyalshing thana, who was reportedly dressed in jeans and T-shirt and who started abusing them for attending a meeting of the opposition party. He is even alleged to have threatened them.
As per the petition, later, at around 2 pm, as the meeting was underway at the party office the SI arrived with 10 to 15 IRBn jawans and started manhandling the party workers including women and also started abusing the party workers. They were told to stop the meeting and the police personnel allegedly assaulted them with batons and threatened them with a pistol, the petition contends.  Several people are alleged to have been illegally arrested by the police that day. It is alleged that the petitioners were beaten on the way to the thana as well as in the thana.
Later, when taken for medical examination the lady doctor on duty is informed to have initially refused to examine the petitioners as they had multiple bruises and injury marks with some of them bleeding as well. The next day, Narendra and Prem Kumar were admitted to the CRH Hospital, Tadong.
The petition alleges that youth are gagged by the state machinery, that is, the police and illegally detained and tortured in police custody and prevented from exercising their fundamental right as guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. They have sought a judicial inquiry into the incident. They have also sought adequate compensation for their medical treatment to the tune of Rs.5 lakh from the police personnel involved in the torture. Suspension of the police personnel has also been sought. Furthermore their counsel has also sought that a citizen’s charter of DK Basu’s guidelines be put up in all police stations. This charter informs all those in police custody of their rights.

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