1 serving, 2 retd IAF officers get life term in custodial death case

The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Gujarat has held two retired and one serving Indian Air Force (IAF) officers guilty in a case of custodial case. The court has awarded life sentence to all the three accused on May 12.

An Air Force cook of Jamnagar Air Force station was in their custody for suspected theft of 94 liquor bottles. The cook died during investigation because of third degree torture.

Special Court Judge Nikhil Joshi while pronouncing the order on Tuesday observed that “the convicts have been held guilty of having murdered a civilian after taking him for interrogation in the guise of investigating about few liquor bottles that were missing. The convicts are found guilty of having tortured the victim while he was in their custody after having conspired to extract a confession from him. Custodial torture by law enforcing agencies is indeed one of the worst kind of crime in a society governed by rule of Law”.

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It further noted that since the case does not fall in the rarest category, the convicts will not be awarded capital punishment. Hence, life imprisonment is awarded to convicts Anoop Sood, Anil K.N. (both retired officers), and Mahendra Singh Sherawat. All three are additionally fined Rs 10,000 each.

The court has directed the District Legal Service Authority to consider awarding compensation to the victim’s widow.

Between November 9 and 10, 1995, 94 liquor bottles had gone missing from Canteen Stores Department (CSD) of IAF station, Jamnagar. In this regard, a complaint was filed with the Jamnagar city police.

Concurrently, Jamnagar Air Force station Air Commodore had ordered an internal inquiry into the matter. During the search, liquor bottles were found in Air force cook GS Rawat’s residence. In this connection, the Air Force police had taken him into custody on November 13 for inquiry.

On November 14, Rawat was taken to an Air Force hospital, where the duty doctor declared him dead. The post-mortem report revealed that external injuries found on Rawat’s body indicated shock and hemorrhage on account of thoraco-abdominal injuries caused by hard blunt objects. On the victim’s wife’s plea, the Gujarat High Court has ordered a CBI investigation.

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