The Kerala High Court on Thursday was informed by the State that S Sreejith IPS is not in charge of the investigation of the 2017 actor sexual assault case and that following his transfer, a new investigation team was appointed. Sheikh Darwesh Sahib, the head of the new crime branch, is now in charge of the team, it was submitted.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly thereby directed the State Government to submit a report containing the transfer order and information on the new investigation team within seven days.
Earlier this month, the Court had asked the State Police Chief to clarify if an order has been issued appointing the new Crime Branch Chief as the supervising authority of the special investigation team (SIT) which is currently probing the sexual assault case.
Appearing through Advocate B. Mohan Lal, the petitioner submitted that the government had taken off the post of the Crime Branch chief from him with a malafide intention of saving the actual perpetrators of the crime and thereby sought to declare that Sreejith was entitled to continue the supervision of the case.
On the other hand, Senior Government Pleader had submitted that the order reconstituting the SIT in the case had only mentioned the name of Sreejith in his capacity as the head of the Crime Branch and as such, when he was transferred to another department, the incumbent officer would assume the charge of supervision of the team.
He also submitted that he will verify if any order has been issued by the State Police Chief in supersession of this order appointing him as the supervising officer of the SIT.
The Bench observed that Section 97 of the Kerala Police Act did not say that the officer who headed an SIT cannot be altered or anything about the posting of a Crime Branch chief. The provision only prescribed a minimum tenure of two years for police officers posted as SPC, Inspector General in charge of ranges, Superintendent of Police or Commissioners in charge of police districts and station house officers.
Anyway, since the matter was considered at the first instance for admission, the Bench had then taken the view that official respondents require some time to respond to the allegations and it was accordingly adjourned to today.
Case Title: Kerala State Board of International Human Rights Council v. State of Kerala