If any person dies because of custodial violence, it is abhorrent in law and completely unacceptable. It violates the rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and affects humanity. Supreme Court of India gave the decision considering the above-cited reasons in the case of Parvat Chandra Mohanti vs. State of Odisha [Criminal Appeal no. 125 of 2021] presided over by the bench of Hon’ble Justice Ashok Bhushan.
In the instant case, the victim (Kasinath Naik) went to the Purighat police station to file a complaint against the other party for the charges of assault. But due to sudden turn in incidents, inspectors present in the police station started assaulting the victim. It was observed that both the inspectors started beating him mercilessly due to which the victim started bleeding. After which he was being taken to the hospital for treatment but was declared dead, the next day.
In the trial court, both the inspectors were found guilty for offences u/s 304 and 324 of the IPC. In the High Court, the accused were directed to pay Rs 3 lacs to the legal representatives of the deceased.
When the matter reached the Supreme Court, the appellant’s counsel argued that when the incident occurred, section 324 of IPC was a compoundable offence & therefore they challenged their conviction under the said section. Considering all the facts present in the case, Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused u/s 324 of IPC and stated that “Even if the offence was compoundable, the court cannot grant leave considering the facts of the case and those can only be compounded with the leave of a court u/s 320 CrPC”. Hence, the Supreme Court finally decided that “The present is a case where the accused who were police officers, one of them being in-charge of Station and other Senior Inspector have themselves brutally beaten the deceased, who died the same night. Their offences cannot be compounded by 31 Court in the exercise of Section 320(2) read with subsection (5). We, thus, reject the prayer of the appellants to compound the offence”.
Finally, Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the accused but considering the fact that they were aged more than 75 years, court reduced their sentence by one year and directed the accused to pay Rs 3.5 lacs to the legal representatives of the deceased.
The further court stated that “The custodial violence on the deceased which led to the death is abhorrent and not acceptable in the civilized society. The offence committed by the accused is a crime not against the deceased alone but was against humanity and clear violations of rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.” Due to this, the appeals were partly allowed. The sentence awarded to the appellants under Section 324 IPC of one year was reduced to six months.