New Delhi: A Delhi court has recently pulled up the police for their negligent, unprofessional, and insensitive approach in probing a case of the unnatural death of a retired BSF officer. The Delhi Police had claimed that the case was of death due to a road accident and had filed a final accident report.

The deceased was found in injured condition near Jhandewalan Mandir on December 10, 2022.

Kamini Lau, the presiding officer of the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) at Tees Hazari Court, pulled up the police and expressed her displeasure.

The judge said, ” I have observed that the SHO and the ACP concerned adopted an approach that was casual, highly unprofessional, and insensitive.”

” They grossly ignored the established, standard investigating procedure and practice and expected this Court/ Tribunal to fall in line with their irrational, illogical, and ill-advised conclusions by overlooking their major lapses, the judge said in an order passed on January 12.

Kamini Lau said, “As a court of law governed by the principle of the rule of law, no illegalities can be tolerated or condoned.”

She expressed her displeasure in strong words and said, “Courts of Law are not rubber stamps and have sufficient inherent powers to take all necessary steps as per law to ensure that due justice is done.”

During the hearing, the SHO Police Station Paharganj submitted in writing that additional penal Sections 109/304/34 IPC shall be added in the case and he will also invoke the relevant provisions of The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.
On request, the court granted an opportunity to the DCP (Central) to place on record a status report based on the additional material which has come on record on January 17, 2023.

The tribunal also appreciated the Additional Public Prosecutor for providing legal assistance. However, the court has directed in the interest of justice, a copy of this order to be placed before the Commissioner of Police for information and necessary action at his end.

On January 9, 2023, the court had taken note and expressed strong displeasure on the unprofessional, casual and insensitive conduct of the ACP and SHO concerned for three reasons. The court noted that there was a delay in the registration of FIR by almost a month (26 days).

The court had also noted that the police invoked a lesser offence for the unnatural death of the deceased Ujagar Singh aged 85 years, who has now been found to be a victim of familial abuse by his own children/ sons and delaying the timely initiation of investigations into the same. Lastly for concluding the unnatural death of the deceased Ujagar Singh as a Road Traffic Accident without any cogent material/ evidence to support this view, the court noted. The postmortem report collected after 19 days gave no conclusion of the death of Ujagar Singh being an outcome of a Road Accident, the court noted.

While passing the order the court also referred to World Health Organization in its report of June 13, 2022.

In the report, it was observed that around one in six people 60 years and older, experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. The report also observed that rates of abuse of older people are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with two in three staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.

The rate of abuse by older people has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report observed. The court also noted that abuse of older people can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences. The report also said that abuse of older people is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations. It is observed in the report that the global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 990 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.

The court said, ” No indulgence can be given to any abusive and exploitative (emotional, psychological and financial) adults who are uncaring to their elders in the house. Overlooking and ignoring this outrageous criminal behavior does not spell well in the society and this country.”

The court also said, “Any person in India indulging in these acts of knowing and intended negligence, abuse, harassment, etc. that causes serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult has to face the legal consequences if any harm is ensued or caused to such elders.”

Any adult person who shows disrespect to their parents and is grossly unconcerned with the outcome of his abusive behavior undeterred by law has to be taken to task, the court said. The court said that identification and reporting of this abuse, neglect, and exploitation to authorities are necessary for timely intervention.

Any institutional indifference and nonserious, non-professional, and insensitive casual approach has to be viewed seriously and cannot be condoned, it added. The court said that in the present case, the timely response/ action by the Delhi Police against those who caused harassment to the deceased is missing resulting in his unnatural death.

The judge observed, “I am sure that a timely intervention by the Police of South West district when repeated calls were made by the Moti Bagh Gurudwara, could have saved the life of Ujagar Singh despite all the social assistance given to him by Gurpreet Singh and his family and the management of Moti Bagh Sahib Gurudwara.”

The efforts put in by Sh. Gurpreet Singh, a good samaritan, and his family members as well as the management of Gurudwara who intervened to provide humanitarian aid to a person unknown to them, is admirable and has to be lauded and appreciated, the court said.

The court further said that it is this assistance which is an appropriate social response to the abusive situation suffered by the late Ujagar Singh. They appreciated and said that Gurpreet Singh and his family along with the Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee had tried their level best to help the deceased before his death when he shared his trauma/ experiences with them.

The judge noted, “But no timely police assistance was provided despite help calls, consequently resulting in the unnatural death of the deceased and how the senior officers of Police Station Paharganj (SHO and ACP) tried to hush up the entire case is condemnable.

During the hearing the Addl. DCP (Central) submitted that after the new and additional facts have come on record, he will ensure that all necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that justice is done. He further submitted that keeping in view the apprehensions and suspicions raised by independent public witnesses, the investigations shall be transferred to an independent, efficient and duly sensitized officer not less than the rank of an Inspector.

He also requested a grant of one opportunity to enable him to apprise his senior officers of the issues flagged herein above after ensuring that all the electronic evidence which has been placed before the Tribunal by the independent public witnesses is duly collected and analyzed for immediate action.

He submitted that all legal provisions shall be duly invoked against the sons and other family members of the deceased who are found involved in inflicting abuse, neglect, harassment, and torture upon him to expose him to the risk of harm to his health and personal safety, thereby resulting in his unnatural death. He undertakes that this aspect shall be duly investigated independently under their supervision.

Being unsatisfied by the conclusions so arrived at by the SHO/ ACP relating to the unnatural death of the deceased Ujagar Singh as a Road Traffic Accident and noticing the non-serious, insensitive and casual approach of the SHO and the ACP Police Station Paharganj, the need arose to seek the appearance of the senior officers of the rank of DCP.

In this regard, I may observe that the existing criminal law of this Country empowers the Senior Officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police (in the case of Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police) to intervene and exercise powers as in the charge of the Police Station in all cases where a major default by the said Incharge of the Police Station is brought to their notice, the judge said.

The court noted, “In the present case, the major and material lapses on behalf of the investigating Agency (the SHO and ACP Police Station Paharganj) in failing to lodge an FIR in time for which no justification/ explanation forthcoming; loss of material evidence; nonexamination of material witnesses; non-collection of electronic evidence in the form of Call Detail Records or CCTV Footages; non-collection of material/ evidence before concluding a Road Traffic Accident, have already been noted herein above and duly communicated to the senior officers of the District and under the same the Addl. DCP Sh. Shashank Jaiswal has appeared on behalf of the DCP (Central)”.

By Archana

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