Court orders judicial inquiry into custodial death in Imphal West
The court ordered that until the judicial inquiry into the alleged custodial death of Arambam Nanao is completed, no transfer of posting should be caused to any police personnel posted at Imphal Police Station.
Updated 6 May 2022, 2:33 pm
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West on Thursday directed the Judicial Magistrate First Class/ Imphal West – II Robert Lhungdim to conduct a judicial inquiry into the alleged custodial death of Arambam Nanao and ordered to submit the inquiry report within two weeks.
The court ordered that until the judicial enquiry is completed, no transfer of posting should be caused to any police personnel posted at Imphal Police Station. It gave instructions to enable the magistrate to conduct and record statements of witnesses smoothly. It stated that the body should not be cremated or disposed of until necessary inquiry is completed and the same shall be intimated to the court. It further requested all the authorities concerned to extend cooperation while the judicial inquiry is being conducted.
At around 9 am on May 2, some police personnel in a civil dress allegedly picked up the jeweller, Arambam Nanao, 37, son of (Late) Arambam Dhananjoy Singh of Sagolband Kangabam Leikai from his residence on the alleged charge of not returning borrowed gold and he was allowed to return home after some hours in the police custody. He reportedly collapsed and died in a hospital.
Late Nanao’s mother Arambam Kombirei Devi prayed the court for instituting an independent inquiry into the death of her deceased son in the Police Custody of Imphal Police Station on May 4.
She alleged that at around 9 am some 3-4 police personnel in a civil dress took her son and one individual identifying himself as sub inspector Jitendra of Imphal Police Station, riding a white Honda Activa, informed the family members that they should come to the Imphal Police Station. At around 10.30 am, she went to Imphal Police Station but was made to wait until around 1:30 pm when SI Jitendra demanded her to bring Rs 5 lakh before 4 pm for the release of her son, she alleged.
She further alleged that when they were arranging the money, some police personnel brought her son home and took him to his room. “None of the family members were allowed to meet or attend to the deceased in his room and his own house by the police personnel,” she said.
It also alleged that after some time her son was taken out of his room by the police personnel in an unconscious state and rushed to RIMS Hospital by two police personnel where one was not wearing a police uniform. Her son soon died on reaching the hospital and later, the petitioner found out that her son was beaten and tortured in the police station as there were so many visible bruises all over the deceased body.
The order mentioned that on the morning of May 3, the court heard the news published in local newspapers and expected the submission of an FIR copy in connection with the reported incident before the court in compliance with the statutory provision under Section 157 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 (CrPC). It is requisite for the authorities to register an FIR in the case of custodial deaths, it stated. “However, it was already 3 pm and no FIR copy was sent to the court,” it stated.
Only after the court inquired, the soft copies of an FIR No 106 (5)2022, Imphal Police station and Ejahar were received through WhatsApp at around 4.30 pm, it added.
After receiving the FIR registered under 304/34 IPC and Ejahar, the court stated that a prima facie case exists of custodial death and directed for conducting suo moto judicial inquiry.
The court further stated that the place of custodial death happened in the heart of the state capital, Imphal where the Police Station shares the same compound with the office of the superintendent of Police, Imphal West and offices of other high-ranking police officers. Just across the street, the state police headquarter and bungalow and office of the chief minister is located, it mentioned.
“There were reports in the past that the cry of custodial torture in the Imphal Police Station could be heard in the adjacent New Secretariat building. According to the mother of the deceased, her son was abducted in the morning and brought home around 4 pm, thus unless the police personnel took the deceased at other places, the deceased was in the precinct of the Imphal Police Station from around 9.30 am to 3.30 pm (6 hours),” the court stated.
It implies that the alleged custodial tortures and eventual murder could not have missed the ears of the OC and other police personnel who are posted there on that day unless they are on leave or details for outside duties, it stated.
When the court inquired, it was noticed that on the arrest memo given to the mother of the deceased, the reason of arrest given at serial No 5 was left blank or unfilled. The deceased was not arrested on any FIR-related case or any direction given by the Magistrate Court for inquiring under Section 202 of CrPC, as per the court.
After thorough inquiry, the court directed the magistrate for judicial inquiry with directions that to cover the circumstances leading to the death of the deceased; the manner and sequence of incidents leading to death; the cause of death and its motive behind such an act, any police personnel and other persons who have abetted in the act leading to the death; any act of omission on the part of police personnel or other public servants who have the knowledge but failed to safeguard the life of the deceased and whether any property or cash/ money has been seized by the police personnel from the deceased or from his family members.
It may be mentioned that the sub-inspector of Manipur police Th Jitendro Singh was suspended on May 3 in connection with the death of a man in police custody, allegedly after brutal torture by the Imphal West district police.
Further, he was arrested and produced before the court with a prayer for six days police custody on Thursday. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West, Alex Muivah remanded SI Jitendro in six-day police custody till May 10 after considering the allegations.