Says officials trying to leave no stone unturned to show inmate Manju Shetye’s death an accident.
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Monday reprimanded Byculla jail authorities for attempting to show that Byculla women’s prison inmate Manju Shetye’s death on June 23 was an accident. The court also said that the investigating team is leaving no stone unturned to convey to the court that it was an accident. “Don’t try to mislead the court,” said the division bench of Justice R.M. Savant and Justice Sadhna Jadhav while hearing a PIL filed by Pune resident Pradeep Bhalekar, who sought the probe’s transfer to the state CID.
Petitioner’s lawyer Nitin Satpute pointed out to court that the statement of Dr Vishwesh Rote, the doctor who prepared the ‘inquest panchnama’ (the first ‘panchnama’ made after a death), had still not been recorded.
The bench was also annoyed that while the death information certificate or the inquest panchnama said there were no obvious external injuries noted on Shetye’s body, later many external injuries were found on the body during an autopsy conducted at the state-run J.J. Hospital.
“Why has Dr Vishwesh Rote’s statement not been recorded till now? The investigation of this case was transferred to the Crime Branch a month ago, what stopped you from recording his statement?” asked Justice Jadhav. On this, the court was informed that statements of inmates who have claimed to be eye-witnesses are being recorded and statements of more than 50 inmates have been recorded till now.
“You are trying to put an impression that this is an accidental death, this amounts to disappearance of evidence, this means you are shielding somebody” said Justice Jadhav. The bench also scolded the state, saying, “People are losing faith in you (police).” The court then directed the investigating agency to record Dr Rote’s statement within three days and complete recording statement of inmates soon and file a status report on July 31.
In the meantime, six arrested jail staff filed bail application in the Sessions court on Monday. The court is expected to hear the pleas on Tuesday.