Mumbai, (The Hindu): The Bombay High Court on Monday asked why jail officials did not lodge a complaint about the alleged custodial death of Manjula Shette in Byculla jail and why a first information report (FIR) was registered only after an inmate came forward with a complaint of her own.
A division bench of Justice R M Sawant and Justice Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a criminal public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that an investigation into Shette’s murder to be shifted to the State Crime Investigation Department. The PIL, filed by social worker Pradeep Bhalekar, has sought that Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code be added to the FIR.
He also seeks that Section 354 (assault or criminal force on woman with the intent to outrage her modesty) be levied on male constables and a vigilance committee be formed to monitor prisons. The plea also wants the Anti Corruption Bureau to institute an enquiry into the working of the Jail Superintendent and Additional Director General of Prisons for corruption and food supply in jail.
Advocate Nitin Satpute, who is appearing for Mr. Bhalekar, said there had been a delay of over 36 hours in registering an FIR when Shette was assaulted in Byculla jail. He further said that Mariam Sheikh, also an inmate at the jail who eventually registered the complaint about the assault, specifically mentioned that jail officials inserted a stick into her private parts while torturing her. But Section 377 (unnatural offence) of the Indian Penal Code has not been applied to the case.
The court questioned the State government on why there was a delay in taking Shette to hospital and why a FIR was registered only after Sheikh came forward. The court was informed that an enquiry has been set up and the case has already been transferred to the Crime Branch.
On June 23, Shette is alleged to have been brutally assaulted in her barrack in Byculla jail, after which she was allegedly stripped and a baton shoved into her private parts. Post mortem reports confirmed multiple injuries on her body, including her head. A detailed post mortem report is awaited.
Her death sparked a riot in the prison late last month, and the 200-odd inmates, including Sheena Bora murder accused Indrani Mukerjea, destroyed prison property in the rampage. While the six guards have been booked for murder and are in police custody, police have registered a separate FIR against the inmates for rioting.
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