Sopore Man’s Death | High Court issues notice on family plea seeking magisterial inquiry report

GK File Photo of J&K High Court Srinagar/Mubashir Khan
GK File Photo of J&K High Court Srinagar/Mubashir Khan

The High Court Thursday issued a notice on a plea seeking to produce the findings of an inquiry by a magistrate regarding the circumstances that led to the death of a man from north Kashmir's Sopore area in September 2020 to the court.

The petition filed by mother Haja Begum, sister Tahira Akther and brother Javid Akber Dar of the deceased Irfan Ahmad Dar also seeks direction for registration of an FIR in connection with the death of later who the family alleges was killed in "custody" after being picked up by Police from his shop at Sidiq Colony Sopore on 15 September 2020

After hearing counsel Shafqat Nazir on behalf of the deceased's family, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey issued a notice to J&K's Principal Secretary Home Department and DGP besides SSP Sopore, SHO Police Station Sopore, SHO Police Station Bomai, District Magistrate Baramulla and Additional District Magistrate Baramulla.

The response to the petition has to be filed by these authorities by 12 May 2021.

In its plea, the family submits that Irfan as a shopkeeper was running his departmental store at Sidiq Colony Sopore and was "picked up from his shop by the personnel of Special Operations Group of J&K Police on15 September 2020 at about 12:30 pm without any reason".

According to the petition, Abdul Waheed Dar, the brother of Irfan, next day approached the Police Station Sopore with a written application with regard to the incident for registration of an FIR.

The petitioners plead that instead of registering the FIR, the family member were called to the Police Station and informed that Irfan escaped from custody in village Tujar Sharief and had fallen into a stone quarry where his body was later found.

The petitioners further contend that Police Station Bomai had registered an FIR bearing No 71/2020 under section 224 of the Indian Penal Code against the deceased.

"The fact of the matter is that the deceased was subjected to worst kind of physical torture while in illegal custody which resulted in his death," the family pleads in its petition.

The petitioners contend before the court that "a story was cooked up that the deceased died after he escaped from Police custody while he was being taken for making recovery of some illegal ammunition in village Tujar Sharief".

The deceased, they plead, bore visible torture marks all over his body including head, chest and limbs.

"All this strengthens the belief of the petitioners in the fact that the deceased was tortured to death in Police custody and then a story was cooked up with regard to alleged recoveries and alleged efforts of the deceased to run away from the custody," the petition reads.

The petitioners said that because of the public outcry and protests by the family members of the deceased, District Magistrate Baramulla vide an order dated 17 September 2020 appointed Additional District Magistrate for conducting magisterial inquiry to ascertain the causes and circumstances leading to the death of the deceased.

They said that the Inquiry Officer was asked to submit his report within 20 days.

The family of the deceased further plead that the Inquiry Officer had finally concluded the inquiry in the matter and submitted his report to the District Magistrate Baramulla.

Pointing out that they had the right to know at least the result of the inquiry, the petitioners said that they approached the Inquiry Officer and also the Deputy Magistrate for a copy of the inquiry report but it was denied to them.

The petitioners also submit that they were not provided the copy of the postmortem report of the deceased which they had sought from the concerned authorities in terms of RTI Act.

The petitioners contend that the court being the custodian of the rights of the citizens may show indulgence in the matter.

"The jurisdiction of this court is invoked in view of the constitutional rights guaranteed to the petitioners having been violated and the deceased having been killed in custody," they said.

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