A car dealer here has in a complaint to the Maharashtra human rights panel accused the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) investigators of "torture" while probing a customs duty evasion case against him, a charge denied by an official.
Mohinderpal Singh Gujral, a 51-year-old Sikh businessman who deals in imported vehicles, has accused the investigators of partially chopping off his beard, and on his complaint the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has sought a reply from the DRI and and summoned its officials for a hearing Nov 15.
A DRI official in Mumbai, requesting not to be identified, however, denied Gujral's allegations and said DRI officials were merely doing their duty.
"In fact, he had hidden a small scissor in his pocket and had partly cut off his beard when he went to the toilet while in custody," the official said, adding that the DRI would file "an appropriate reply to the MSHRC soon".
According to Gujral, the incident happened early morning June 1, when a DRI team raided his home in Santacruz at 6 a.m. in connection with a suspected vehicle import duty evasion case. He had imported three vehicles in 2007-08 and claimed he had paid the necessary customs duty.
When he threatened to call police, Gujral claimed, DRI officials D.S. Mehta and C. Jagasia, named in his complaint to the MSHRC, demanded Rs.2.50 million from him to settle the matter.
The car dealer alleged when he refused to pay the bribe, Mehta, Jagasia and another team-member assaulted and arrested him.
"Later, Jagasia took a pair of scissors and started cutting my beard from the right side of my face, even Mehta did the same, while both continued to slap me and demand money," Gujral told IANS Monday.
Gujral alleged he was dumped in a vehicle and taken to St. George Hospital and made to sit in the corridor, while the DRI officials went inside and brought a "fake report" claiming there were no injuries on his body.
He said when later in the day he was presented before a metropolitan magistrate he saw the physical assault marks on his body and ordered him to be taken to Sir J.J. Hospital for a medical examination and the injury report was positive.
“Police are not ready to take up my compliant, saying that the DRI is a central government department and they would have to seek prior permission in the matter. Finally, I have approached the MSHRC,” Gujral said.
He alleged that he had been victimised by the DRI since he had helped his elderly uncle, Jangbahadur Singh Gujral, who had been arrested in a similar case over two years ago.