HC asks trial court to book GRP men for murder

Agnelo Valdaris  

The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the trial court to book eight Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel for murder in the custodial death of 25-year-old Agnelo Valdaris in 2014.

A Bench comprising Justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and S.S. Jadhav was hearing a plea filed by the deceased’s father, Leonard Valdaris, accusing police personnel of torturing and murdering his son. Valdaris was arrested by the Wadala railway police station in April 2014 for alleged theft.

The Bench said there was enough evidence prima facie, to show that it is a case of murder. The court said, “Custodial death cases have been on the rise in the country. Custodial violence — physical, emotional or mental — leaves a permanent impact on the victim. In the present case, the victim was tortured by none other than the protectors of law,” the court said.

The Bench also remarked that the case was “riddled with mystery right from inception”. It said torture, when committed under the shield of uniform and authority within the four walls of a prison, police station or lock-up, makes the victim helpless. “The accused policemen also allegedly sexually abused the victim and taunted him over his caste and religious beliefs,” the court said.

While the family was certain that their son was subjected to mental and physical torture in custody, the police claimed that Valdaris was run over by a train while attempting to escape from the police custody.

Advocate Payoshi Roy, on behalf of the deceased’s family, said according to the National Crime Records Bureau data, there have been 330 cases of custodial death in the last 16 years, and no one has been charged and tried under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). “For the first time in so many years, the court has acknowledged that it appears to be a case of murder, and the policemen will be tried for it,” Ms. Roy said.

Ms. Roy had earlier informed the court that the eight GRP personnel had been booked under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 109 (punishment for abetment if the act is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the IPC, but they were not charged with Section 302 as the Central Bureau of Investigation had failed to produce documents which said Valdaris was murdered.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 9:35:21 AM |

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