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04th-Oct-2015

Supreme Court as protector of life can`t ignore deaths in police custody

By Editorial Desk

There has to be an arrangement of protecting those big ones who instigated or master-minded the business of leaking question papers. The whole matter of easy court order for police remand, though the Supreme Court expressed its disapproval, and death in police custody should quite legitimately be investigated by the Supreme Court. We have been protesting consistently against sending persons for investigation into police custody. The situation has worsened to the extent that killings in police custody has become too frequent to be ignored. The Supreme Court, as the protector of fundamental rights, including the right to life, has a judicial obligation to establish accountability for loss of life in the hands of the police. The constitutional mandate is clear: No person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty save in accordance with law. It cannot be a free country where only the powerful ones are safe with the help of the whole state machinery. Siraj (32), an Assistant Director of University Grants Commission (UGC), was arrested on September 18 for his suspected involvement in question paper leak of medical college admission and job recruitment tests. He was on a two-day remand from Wednesday. Sohel Mahmud, Assistant Professor of Forensic Medicine Department at DMCH, after an autopsy said they were still not in a position to reach a conclusion.Talking to the media at the Medical College, the family members, including the wife of Siraj, said they met him several times after his arrest and he was in good health. He died in RAB custody because he was tortured on remand, they alleged. Amid public outrage over the death, noted citizens, academics, intellectuals and students on Friday at a demonstration in Shahbagh termed it a "planned murder" and demanded a fair probe into the incident. How is it possible for a previously healthy person of 30 or 50 to have a normal heart attack — and if he had one, why are there marks on his body? Also why can't the autopsy team say conclusively whether the marks resembled those of torture or not? Because of torture one can have heart attack and no death takes place without failure of heart. These types of 'custodial deaths' are becoming a routine matter. Any civil society will be deeply shocked and concerned but the bottom line remains that these must never happen at all in the hands of the law enforcers. The RAB and police are to protect life — and surely not torture or kill their own citizens. This is simply unpatriotism. The culture of impunity which exists among our security forces must end for our national image and theirs too. More importantly, practice of taking persons to police custody under court's order for investigation must be discontinued. However, if the court grants remand, then they must be produced in court alive and unharmed.   If an accused is to be interrogated it must be done in the presence of his lawyer, because an accused person must enjoy the protection of law. In this case most definitely an investigation must occur as to the origin of the marks on the body of the deceased — if they did not exist before — must be found out where they came from. Even if the deceased was guilty of question paper leakage — there is no reason as to why he should have died in custody without trial. There is another very important question to be looked into in connection with custodial deaths apart from resorting to torture in violation of the Constitution, and that is whether by killing him valuable evidence has been destroyed leading to the tracing of real criminals responsible for giving out question papers. Systematic leaking of question papers for big money cannot be an affair of one minor player.