Custodial death not acceptable, is crime against society: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that death due to custodial violence is abhorrent and not acceptable in a civilised society.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Ajay Rastogi said: “The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilised society. The offence committed by the accused is a crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

The observation was made by the top court, as it declined to compound the 1988 offence of two Odisha policemen, accused of assaulting a man, who later succumbed to injuries.

Criticising custodial torture, the bench said the beating of a person in the police station is the concern for all and causes a sense of fear in the entire society. However, the top court reduced the sentence of two septuagenarian accused and directed that enhanced compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh each be paid to the family members of the deceased.

The bench pointed out that police is protector of law and order and people look forward to it to protect their life and property. “When the protector of people and society himself instead of protecting the people adopts brutality and inhumanly beat the person who comes to the police station, it is a matter of great public concern,” the top court said in a 35-page verdict.

The accused police officers, a police station in-charge and senior inspector, had mercilessly beaten up the man at the police station. The victim later succumbed to the injuries. These police officers moved the top court against the conviction upheld by the High Court and sought commuting of the offence.

The bench said: “We, thus, are of the considered opinion that present is a case where this Court is not to grant leave for compounding the offences under Section 324 of IPC as prayed by the counsel for the appellants.”

The bench observed that offences which affect the public in general and create fear in the public in general are serious offences, and it established the accused have mercilessly beaten the deceased in the premises of the police station, which cannot be overlooked.