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June 2, 2004

Court throws out 'mute confession'

From: Delhi Newsline, India - Jun 2, 2004

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, June 2: A Delhi court has nailed the lie of two policemen who claimed that a deaf and mute man had confessed to possessing narcotics.

During the probe, police claimed Hazrat Ali alias Montu had told them that he was guilty. But Additional Sessions Judge Rajneesh Bhatnagar discovered that Ali was deaf and mute and could in no way have made any statement.

Today, the court acquitted Ali, saying ''it is a case of blatant violation of the right to life and liberty granted to a citizen.''

The judge also asked the two officers who probed the case — ASI Sudesh Pal and ASI Ramesh Chand — to pay compensation of Rs 25,000 to Ali, observing that ''it would be a travesty of justice if I restrict myself to simply acquitting the accused who has been in jail for eight months.'' However, the court added that ''no amount of compensation can be sufficient for the pain and agony suffered by Ali.''

Ali was arrested on March 17, 2003 and charged under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Prevention) Act. Police claimed to have recovered 1200 grams of ganja from him.

The Act requires police to give notice to any person before a search is carried out, giving him the option to have the search done in the presence of a Gazetted Officer.

Police claimed that it had issued the notice to Ali, and that they had read it to him as he was ''illiterate''. They also claimed that Ali, after hearing it, said he was guilty of the crime.

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.