The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Woman suffers custody torment

Calcutta, Nov. 27: Calcutta police were hauled up in court today for harassing a woman in custody.

The chief metropolitan magistrate’s court directed the police to take “appropriate action” against a sub-inspector of Bowbazar police station who sought and was granted custody of the woman for interrogation, but failed to ask her any questions.

Sonali Banerjee, a clerk in a private firm on Central Avenue that allegedly cheated unemployed youths of thousands of rupees, was arrested on Monday after the police failed to track down the firm’s owner.

Banerjee was produced before chief metropolitan magistrate Sarat Chandra Mishra on Tuesday, when the investigating officer sought her custody for a day for questioning.

Unable to find a lawyer to defend her in view of the ceasework, the inexperienced Banerjee could not offer a strong case against the plea and was sent to police custody.

But when Banerjee — looking much worse for the stay in custody — broke down in court today and revealed that she was not interrogated at all, an angry Mishra hauled up the police. The investigating officer, not surprisingly, did not turn up in court today.

“I know nothing about the affairs of the firm I was working for,” Banerjee told the court in tears, adding that she came from a poor family and desperately needed a job.

“I needed to save my parents from starvation,” she said. “How is it possible for me to look up the antecedents of a firm I know nothing about'”

Alleging that the police had kept her in custody only to harass her, Banerjee said she had not been asked a single question while she was in the lock-up.

The magistrate called for the case diary and found that there was nothing to suggest that the woman had been interrogated.

An angry Mishra then directed the officer concerned to appear before him and explain why he did not interrogate Banerjee after asking for her custody.

The court normally grants investigating officers the custody of the accused for questioning. “But in this case, the investigating officer did not bother to interrogate the woman after asking for her custody,” Mishra said.

After tearing into the Bowbazar sub-inspector, the court asked the deputy commissioner (detective commissioner) to take “appropriate action” against him.

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