Aapka Consultant Judgment Series- In this series, we are providing case analysis of Landmark Judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
Mehboob Batcha and Ors v. State Rep. by Superintendent of Police
 7 SCC 45,  3 SCR 1091
JUDGES: Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra
Date of Decision: 29-03-2011
This is a tragic case of custodial torture wherein appellants, tried as accused, wrongfully detained the deceased and beaten him to death with lathis while in custody and also, gang raped his wife in a barbaric manner within the premises of the police station. Several other persons (witnesses) were also confined and beaten up with lathis. Both the Trial Court and the High Court held appellants guilty but treated the death of deceased as suicide and thereby, no charge has been framed under S. 302 of IPC against them. Aggrieved by the order of the High Court, appellant accused filed the appeal before the apex court.
Whether right to protection against custodial violence is protected under Article 21 of the Constitution?
The Court found no reason to disbelieve the evidences expressed by the PW 1 wife of the deceased, disclosing the inhuman and savage manner in which the accused appellants treated her and the deceased. The Court was surprised for not formulating the charge under S. 302 of IPC by the trial court. In opinion of the Court, facts and evidences on records were deeply cried for the death penalty but both trial court and high court were failed to consider it on serious note. Get security services on your establishment, read this – SecurityInfo to learn more.
The Court rejected the arguments of committing suicide and also, discrepancies in the evidences of PW1, stating that minor discrepancies cannot demolish the veracity of the prosecution case.
The Court outlined that “Crimes against women are not ordinary crimes committed in a fit of anger or for property. They are social crimes. They disrupt the entire social fabric, and hence they call for harsh punishment.” Further, Court held that the manner in which appellants treated the victims within the premises was shocking and atrocious and calls for no mercy.
The Court heavily relied on guidelines given by D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal [1997(1) SCC 416]; one of the horrifying case that shocks the apex court; illustrates custodial death as one of the worst crimes in a civilized society governed by the rule of law and the rights inherent under Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Constitution requires to be jealously and scrupulously protected. The apex court in this case expressed his concern on the matter stating inspite of the constitutional and statutory provisions aimed at safeguarding the personal liberty and life of a citizen, growing incidence of torture and deaths in police custody has been a disturbing factor. The Court has reiterated the facts of this case in violation of the directives in D.K. Basu with a warning to all policemen in the country that such crimes will not be tolerated.
Since, no charge was framed under S.302 IPC; the court could not proceed to enhance punishment and record conviction. But on considering all the above circumstances of case and gravity of injuries of victims on records, appellant no.1 has been given the sentence of 3 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine, while the other appellants have been given sentence of 10 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine.
No doubt, the Court affirmed the verdict of the high court and trial court except treating death caused by suicide and thereby the dismissed the appeal for the abovementioned reasons.
It was held that custodial violence in police custody is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution and must be protected under the principles ruled in D.K. Basu’s case with harsh punishment.
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