SC fiat to MP on dealing with hardened criminals



New Delhi: After 4 dacoits escaped from police custody and committed murders in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court has directed the state not to transport "dangerous criminals" in public or private transport.

A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale, while expressing anguish over the inaction displayed by the state in taking action against the police personnel responsible for the criminals' escape, asked the government to construct "single court room" complexes to try such hardened criminals.

The apex court passed the direction while dealing with the SLP filed by the state challenging the Madhya Pradesh High Court's direction for a CBI inquiry into alleged complicity by top police officers in the escape of the four dacoits in 2004.

On March 23, 2001, a gang of four criminals--Rambabu Gadariya, Dayaram, Pratap and Gopal, while returning from Dabra to Gwalior after attending the court, escaped from police custody.

These four criminals escaped allegedly with the help and connivance of certain police officers and murdered 14 persons in village Bhanwarpura.

One Ram Prakash Singh filed a PIL in Madhya Pradesh High Court alleging harassment and torture of persons from gadariya (Baghel) caste by the police in their pursuit to nab the criminals.

The high court, which had inquired into the alleged complicity of top police officials on November 8, 2004, directed a CBI inquiry into the role of police officials including the then IG and SP of Gwalior.

The apex court had, however, on December 17, 2004, stayed the CBI probe but appointed a one-man commission of senior IAS officer Rakesh Bansal who exonerated the top police officials and made several recommendations to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

Accepting the recommendations, the apex court asked the state to "make amendment in the existing rules and ensure that dangerous prisoners shall not be taken out of jail for journey by public transport vehicles or private vehicles under any circumstances.

"Provide in the Jail Manual that whenever any dangerous or sensitive prisoner is to be transferred from one jail to another jail for court appearance or on administrative grounds, the Jail Superintendent should inform the concerned Superintendent of Police and the District Magistrate by a written communication as well as by meeting them."

The bench said the escape of four dreaded criminals from the police custody and the murder of 14 innocent persons by these criminals after their escape are extremely serious matters.

"In the matter as grave as this, the state government was expected to act promptly by taking action against the erring police officials but it failed to act, necessitating drastic order by the High Court.

"The handling of the matter by the state government and its functionaries has been far from satisfactory. We would like the state government to take appropriate action against the erring official/s without any further delay and also take all remedial measures to ensure that such things do not happen in future," the bench said.

Madhya Pradesh counsel Vibha Makhija told the court that the four out of the five criminals died in police encouters over a period of time.

PTI