TURA, March 05: Hauling up the district administration, police personnel, including the then Superintendent of Police, Mukesh Singh and a bevy of doctors, who according to the High Court of Meghalaya, were guilty of neglect in the custodial death of Balsan Marak, the HC has asked for a departmental inquiry into their roles, while also asserting that case needed to be concluded within a year from the date of judgment in the Trial Court, where criminal proceedings are currently on.
The HC further increased compensation in the case to Rs 15 lakhs for the custodial death of Balsan.
Balsan died in judicial custody after he was beaten up in police custody following his arrest while accompanying one of the victims in the now infamous assault case of 12 girls allegedly by NGO members for their alleged role in flesh trade.
Immediately after his death, Balsan’s mother, Meena filed a WP in the HC seeking justice for her son.
The judgment was passed on February 28, 2018 by the HC where the Court came down heavily on the administration, police personnel, doctors as well as the CJM of the Sessions Court in Tura and sought inquiries against all of them. The case was later handed over to the CID for investigation.
Balsan’s killing had raised a huge cry in Garo Hills leading first to a magisterial inquiry followed by a High Level Inquiry, both of which found the policemen not guilty of assault of Balsan leading to his death and blamed the poor medical facilities and healthcare for his death.
The Court rubbished the contention of the SP and other police personnel involved in the case of no assault taking place, calling the act as perjury for falsifying facts.
Balsan was arrested on May 12 by the police after he drove one of victims of the NGO case when she stated that she would provide information of innocence of the NGO members arrested for assaulting them. She however later filed a case against Balsan on May 14, two days after his arrest. However, Balsan had already been arrested prior to the complaint and was only produced in the Court of the CJM, on May 14, more than 24 hours after his arrest on allegedly being a GNLA cadre.
Apparently the extent of the assault by policemen, including the SP had led to internal injuries as well as a broken arm, something that the CJM as well as the doctors of the Tura Civil Hospital did not treat with seriousness.
Police had stated that Balsan’s right hand was already broken one week prior to the arrest whereas it was in fact his left hand that was broken. He died from internal injuries from the severe beating received at the hands of the police at the behest of the SP, Mukesh Singh.
“The injuries were caused when he was in police custody, before he was brought to the court of the CJM. The medical report is a clear indicator that his arm was broken when he was medically examined on May 12, 2014. The CJM in his affidavit has submitted that Balsan had complained of twisting of his arm by police personnel, but chose to ignore such complaints,” said the Court.
The Court concluded that third degree assault was hurled upon Balsan which had caused internal injuries leading to his death on May 20, 2014. The PM had also suggested congestion and internal injuries.
The Court further called the post mortem as shoddy stating it was done to only complete formalities and many columns were left unfilled for reasons best known to the doctors.
“The contention of the policemen that no assault was made in police custody cannot be accepted.
“The petitioner’s son had driven a motorcycle along with the victim which was proved by the FIR filed by the victim (who Balsan drove),” said the Court.
The Court also came down heavily on the magistrate in charge of the investigation, the High Level Inquiry Committee as well as the DC, Pravin Bakshi, who gave a clean chit to the police team.
“In fact he has praised the efforts of the doctors and blamed the medical facilities while giving a clean chit to the policemen,” added the Court calling the commissioner’s report an act of covering up.
“The Court fails to understand when the deceased (Balsan) had suffered a fracture in the elbow and possibly in his forearm, he was in pain, his skin had become bluish and the doctor did not bother to do an X-Ray or to conduct an operation for 8 long days. On the other hand, the Commissioner gives a clean chit to the doctors. Nothing can be more farcical than that,” read the judgment.
Further the Court also brought up the matter of why the SP and the Additional SP were not named in the charge-sheet after the case was sent to the CID.
“For whatever reasons neither the Commissioner’s report nor the CID had considered their involvement,” it added.
The Court has asked for departmental inquiry to be done by the police as human rights had been violated and was unacceptable in society ruled by law, stating that the police did not have to wait until criminal proceedings are over. It also asked as to why no departmental action was taken against those involved. The inquiry is to include the SP as well as ASP involved in the case.
The Court also confirmed violation of human rights by the SP after Balsan was arrested without a complaint, which came only 2 days after.
The Court further asked various authorities to seek inquiries into the role of the police, the doctors as well as the CJM for their role in the death in custody of Balsan.
A show cause was asked to the issued to the CJM by Register General of the HC and if necessary a full inquiry instituted.
The HC further asked the trial court to conclude the case within a year and if necessary, day to day proceedings could be held.