6 years after his alleged torture by cops: Minor against whom Mumbai Police filed complaint cleared by JJ Board

Nearly six years after a 17-year-old boy was booked and allegedly assaulted by policemen for taking photographs of them beating a suspect on a public street, the Juvenile Justice Board has cleared him of all charges. The police had claimed that the teenager had verbally abused and assaulted them when officials stopped him from taking photographs.

In its order, the JJ Board noted that there was a delay in filing the FIR by the police against the minor, as well as the fact that all the witnesses in the case were policemen.

On March 31, 2014, the boy was apprehended by Wadala Truck Terminus police claiming he had obstructed them from doing their duty by taking their photographs on a street in Wadala. The police alleged that when they tried to stop him, the boy abused them and held one of them by the collar. The police then filed an offence against the minor under section 353 of the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to assault or criminal force to deter public servant.

As the boy was a minor, he was produced before the JJ Board. The boy had told the Board that he was assaulted and tortured by the policemen as he was taking photographs of them assaulting an accused.

During the inquiry before the Board, the police presented four witnesses, all policemen, who claimed that the boy obstructed them and assaulted them. The boy, represented by legal assistance organisation Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind through lawyers Ansar Tamboli and Shahid Nadeem, submitted that the FIR against the boy was an “after-thought” by the police, to save themselves from allegations of torture by the minor.

The Board took into account that while the incident took place before noon, at 11.45am, the FIR by the police was filed at 4 pm. “There was a delay in filing of the FIR. The policemen, who were witnesses in the case, have accepted the defence contention that there is a complaint filed by the minor against the police alleging torture,” the Board has said in its order passed last month.

It also held that none of the witnesses were independent who had seen the alleged assault on the policemen by the minor. It observed that the complainant, who had made the claim about the boy having held his collar, had not said so in the original complaint.
While a complaint was submitted before the Board regarding the alleged torture to the minor, it has directed the minor’s lawyers to approach an appropriate forum regarding it.