Maharashtra: Pay compensation to men tortured on false rioting charges, MSHRC orders Home dept

RULING that the Maharashtra Police misused its powers and tortured five men imprisoned on false charges of rioting, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) directed the state’s additional chief secretary (Home) to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to five Jalna residents. It further directed the Director General of Police (DGP) to initiate a departmental inquiry in the matter.
In his complaint, Irfan Rehman Khan (27), a tailor based in Baid Pura, Jalna, claimed that on the eve of Holi, on March 23, 2016, there was communal violence near a mosque following which a complaint was filed with the Sadar Bazaar police. The complaint alleged that a few men threw colour powder on people coming out of the local mosque after offering prayers.
The police registered an FIR against Khan, along with four others — Arbaaz Rehman Khan, Mohsin Yusuf Khan, Shaikh Mansur Shahid and Shehbaaz Khan — on charges of rioting and and causing hurt. The five were detained on March 30, 2016.
In his complaint to the MSHRC, Khan alleged that they were subjected to communal remarks by Police Sub-inspector Shailesh Shejul. The men were allegedly subjected to custodial torture for a whole day before being presented in court on March 31, when they received bail. A medical examination was conducted the same day, where doctors found fresh injury marks on all five men’s bodies, including one who had sustained a fracture. The medical report said the injuries had been sustained in the 24 hours before hospitalisation.
The Jalna police, in its response to the MSHRC, said the five men forcefully entered a shop, where a Holi prayer was underway, damaged furniture and attacked people performing ‘puja’. A chargesheet in the case was filed by the police on September 4, 2016, naming all five as accused.
According to documents with MSHRC, however, the five men were acquitted of all charges in September 2017. The Jalna district magistrate also ordered an investigation into allegations of torture made by the five men. On May 13, 2016, the principal district judge submitted a report confirming that PSI Shejul tortured the five men after their arrest.
The judge directed the police to register an offence against Shejul. The human rights commission, however, noted that no departmental inquiry had been initiated by the Maharashtra Police against Shejul.
In its order on January 11, MA Sayeed, acting chairperson of MSHRC, observed that the five were not only falsely implicated but also subjected to custodial torture, a clear violation of human rights. The commission has directed the Maharashtra DGP to initiate disciplinary action against Shejul. It has ordered the state government to pay Rs 2 lakh each as compensation within six weeks.