Sunday, December 23, 2007

Vernon Gonsalves : HC asks police not to seek transfer of accused

Special Correspondent

Court decries procedure used by police

Plea says transfer took place when the matter was sub judice

MUMBAI: A Division Bench of the Mumbai High Court comprising Justices R.M.S. Khandeparkar and A.M. Sayyed last Thursday decried the procedure used by the police to transfer alleged naxalites Vernon Gonsalves and Shridhar Srinivasan from one police custody remand to another under Section 267 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC).
Habeas corpus petition

The High Court passed interim orders on a habeas corpus petition filed on their behalf by Susan Abraham, wife of Gonsalves, challenging their arrest by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on August 19, 2007 and their subsequent arrests in 10 other criminal offences in Gondia and Gadchiroli.

The court said a plain reading of the law showed that prima facie the police could not seek transfer of the accused into police custody under this provision. They were directed not to seek any further transfer orders under Section 267 Cr. PC till the next hearing of the petition on January 11, 2008.

The petition said the use of Section 267 of the Cr. PC for taking into custody accused for the purpose of investigation was arbitrary and in violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.

It wanted to know if continuously transferring the accused from one police station to another in different cases exceeding the period of 15 days was not in violation of the procedure established under law. It also challenged the constitutional validity of subjecting the accused detained in custody to narco-analyses, brain mapping and truth serum and other such tests.

The petitioner sought the intervention of the High Court because of the “surreptitious manner” in which the Chandrapur police arrested Gonsalves and Srinivasan when they were in magisterial custody at the Arthur Road jail.

On December 14, when the matter was sub judice, the Chandrapur police obtained an ex parte order under Section 267 Cr. PC from the Mazgaon Metropolitan Magistrate to transfer Gonsalves and Srinivasan into their custody.
“Families not informed”

The two accused were taken to Chandrapur on the evening of December 15, without their families or lawyers being informed.

Meanwhile, four more applications were filed by different police stations in Gadchiroli district.

The petitioner said the police had clear and mala fide intentions to pile as many cases as possible on Srinivasan and Gonsalves till the next hearing in the habeas corpus petition on January 11

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