Kolkata: Calcutta High Court on Friday didn’t grant the prayer for a second post-mortem of the body of Ashok Singh, who died after questioning at Amherst police station on Wednesday. Also, the court did not order shifting of the body to a central government-run hospital. It instead directed immediate shifting of the body from the Calcutta Police Morgue to the SSKM Hospital.
A division bench of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya, after perusing the post-mortem report, didn’t find any reason for ordering a second post-mortem.
When the victim’s family counsel pleaded that the family would accept the body only after a second post-mortem, the Chief Justice said: “There are cases in which the court has ordered a second or a third post-mortem or directed exhuming the body when the court found that some injuries have not been noted in the postmortem report. The post-mortem report in this cases states there is absolutely no external injury and the cause of death is hemorrhage as a consequence of rupture and aneurysm.”
The counsel for the family apprised the court that the deceased didn’t have any medical history. “Submit in your affidavit if the deceased had any pre-existing disease,” the Chief Justice said.
Refusing to grant the prayer of shifting the body to a central government-run hospital, the bench said: “This is not proper. When the state has machinery, you are asking to send the body to the railway hospital, Command Hospital,” the Chief Justice said.
The bench kept its “trust and hope” on the police and directed the public prosecutor to hand over a copy of the postmortem report to the family of the victim. “A copy has already been sent to the victim’s residence,” the public prosecutor said and handed over a copy to the family in the courtroom.
Advocate Priyanka Tibrewal took a cue from the public prosecutor to point out to the court that the audio of the video footage in the police station where Singh was being questioned was not there. She prayed that the CCTV footage be preserved without tampering with the HC registrar general.
The division bench ordered that the video footage should be kept “intact and preserved” and directed the commissioner of police to record the entire footage on a CD and preserve it intact so that it could be produced in court as and when the footage was called for.
The bench also directed the police to get the video footage recording certified by a police officer who would be held responsible for any tampering.
Turning down Tibrewal’s prayer of keeping the video footage with the HC registrar general, the bench said: “We do not suspect any foul play by the respondent police.”
The Chief Justice then asked the victim’s family counsel whether the family would be accepting the body. “We will accept the body but prior to that a second post-mortem may be conducted by the SSKM for the satisfaction of the family,” the family counsel said.
The CJ directed the family to mention the prayer in its affidavit after the court granted the family’s prayer to add them as a party in the case. The bench also directed the respondent police to file an affidavit in response to the family’s allegations before the next hearing on November 23.