VISAKHAPATNAM: The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has urged the Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary to intervene and ensure that Section 176 (1A) is followed and all custodial deaths are inquired into by a judicial magistrate or metropolitan magistrate and not an executive magistrate as is the practice now.
In a letter to the Chief Secretary on Wednesday, HRF leaders K Sudha, UG Srinivasulu and VS Krishna said an RDO was not empowered to conduct an inquiry and such a probe has no legal sanctity. The HRF has brought this to the notice of both Vizianagaram and Eluru collectors but to no avail.
All magisterial inquiries conducted after the June 2006 amendment came into force have not been adhering to the letter and spirit of the CrPC 176 (1A). In most, if not all cases, RDOs are holding the inquiries even though it is expressly impermissible in law, they said.
In the most recent death of Madipalli Apparao (36), a farm hand of Pothunuru in Denduluru mandal in the custody of Bhimadole police in Eluru district on May 4, and that of a self-employed electrician Betha Rambabu (42), who died on February 11 on the precincts of Nellimarla police station in Vizianagaram district, the RDOs have conducted the inquiries though they are not empowered to do so as per law.
They said the insertion of Section 176 (1A) through an amendment to the CrPC in 2005 mandates that all custodial deaths should be inquired into by a judicial magistrate or metropolitan magistrate rather than an executive magistrate.
This provision was inserted by the Criminal Law Amendment Act (Act 25 of 2005) and has come into force on 23-06-2006. The objective of the amendment is to insulate the administration of criminal justice from institutional bias and to ensure that justice is done, they said.