A Delhi court on Wednesday sentenced five Uttar Pradesh policemen to 10-year jail term for custodial death of a 26-year-old man, saying any lenient view by way of a meagre sentence will be against the societal interest.
Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Kumar Malhotra awarded the jail term to Sub Inspectors (SIs) Hindveer Singh and Mahesh Mishra and Constables Pradeep Kumar, Pushpender Kumar and Haripal Singh for abducting the victim, Sonu, making incorrect entries in the General Diary to mislead evidence and torturing him which lead to his death in 2006.
"Any lenient view by imposing meagre sentence or taking too sympathetic view will be result wise counter productive in the long run and against the societal interest which needs to be cared for and strengthened by string of deterrence in built in the sentencing system.
"The court cannot lose sight of the fact that a precious human life has been lost while the deceased was in the police custody without any evidence or reasonable suspicion against him and therefore under these circumstances, keeping in view the submissions and gravity of offence...convicts are sentenced with 10 years rigorous imprisonment," the court said.
It also imposed a fine of ₹35,000 each on them. Besides, the court sentenced a middleman, Kunwar Pal Singh, who connived with the convicts in abducting Sonu, to three years in jail with a fine of ₹5,000.
The court also directed convicts Singh and Mishra to pay ₹5 lakh each in compensation; Pushpender and Haripal to pay ₹2 lakh each and Pal to pay a ₹1 lakh to the father of the victim.
The court had while convicting them said that one of the reasons for custodial death was that the police were confident that they will not be held accountable even if the victim dies in the custody and the truth revealed.
It had convicted the five police officials for the offences under sections 365 (abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 220 (confinement by person having authority who knows he is acting contrary to law) 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 34 (criminal acts done by several persons with a common intention) of the IPC.
It had held Pal guilty of offences of kidnapping and conniving with the other accused.
Sonu was apprehended on the suspicion of being involved in a robbery.
The court had earlier directed DGP of Uttar Pradesh Police to take appropriate action for prosecution as well as for disciplinary proceedings against Inspector Deepak Chaturvedi and Constable Manoj Kumar, who were posted as Station Officer and GD writer respectively on that day for their connivance with accused persons in recording wrong entries in the GD Register and for causing disappearance of evidence.
The Supreme Court had transferred the case from a sessions court in Uttar Pradesh to a court in Delhi and observed that the manner in which the investigation was conducted after registration of the case unmistakably showed that free and fair trial would not be possible within the state as the accused were members of the police force.
"It has been duly proved beyond reasonable doubt that the five accused policemen... in connivance with Kunwar Pal Singh (middleman) and in furtherance of their common intention abducted Sonu from his native village Hazrat Pur (in Uttar Pradesh) and maliciously confined him till he was declared dead knowingly that by confining him illegally they were acting contrary to law as they were apprehending his involvement in a robbery case without any evidence or reasonable suspicion against him," the Sessions Court had said.
"Not only this, they tortured Sonu while he was in their custody knowingly that by such beatings/torture they are likely to cause his death. Further, in order to claim a false defence that they lodged Sonu in hale and hearty condition, they in collusion with their colleagues got prepared an incorrect general diary," the court had said.
It had acquitted SI Vinod Pandey, one of the accused, of all charges due to lack of evidence against him.
According to complaint lodged by the father of the deceased, in September 2006, Kunwar Pal, who worked as a property dealer with his son, came to his house with five police officials in civil dress.
Pal had told Sonu that the five persons accompanying him had come to purchase a land and asked him to show the property to them. On that pretext they took him in a car.
The complaint further claimed that he was taken to a police station on the false implication of a robbery case where he was tortured by the officers.
Sonu's father claimed that his son was murdered by the police after being tortured and they had given it colour of suicide.
During the trial, all the accused denied the charges levelled against them.
The medical report of Sonu showed that there were contusions on the back of his abdomen and elbow and abrasions on his knee and shoulder.