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Moynaguri Sexual Assault: Calcutta HC Orders Inquiry Into Alleged Fabrication Of Signatures Of Seizure Witnesses, Grants Liberty To Change IO If Required

Aaratrika Bhaumik
17 May 2022 6:51 AM GMT
Moynaguri Sexual Assault: Calcutta HC Orders Inquiry Into Alleged Fabrication Of Signatures Of Seizure Witnesses, Grants Liberty To Change IO If Required
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The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed IPS officer Amit P. Javalgi to enquire into allegations pertaining to fabrication of signatures of seizure witnesses pertaining to the Moynaguri sexual assault case and further granted liberty to him to change the concerned Investigating Officer if required in accordance with law.

The directions were passed in a case of death by suicide by a class eight girl at Moynaguri, West Bengal following the commission of the offence of attempt to rape upon her. The minor victim girl who had set herself ablaze following a threat to withdraw a police complaint regarding a rape attempt on her, succumbed to her injuries in a state-run hospital on April 25. Consequently, a renewed prayer for a CBI probe had been made by the concerned petitioner.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakasha Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj was adjudicating upon a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition moved by women advocates of the High Court seeking a CBI probe into 5 recent rape cases that are reported in various districts of West Bengal last month. Incidents of rape have been reported to have taken place at Netra and Namkhana villages in South 24 Parganas district, at Pingla in West Midnapore district, at a village near Santiniketan in Birbhum district and at Mainaguri of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal last month.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had directed IPS officer Amit P. Javalgi to oversee the investigation considering the nature of allegations made and the chain of events. The Court had also interacted with the father of the deceased victim in person for the limited purpose of ascertaining whether the statement made by him opposing a CBI probe was under pressure or out of his own free will.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner had earlier also submitted an affidavit of two seizure witnesses in respect of the seizures which took place on April 26 and April 23, 2022. She had submitted that in respect of one of the seizures, the signature had been obtained upon misrepresentation and that in respect of another seizure the signatures of the two persons had been forged.

On Tuesday, the counsel for the petitioner placing reliance upon the affidavits of the two seizure witnesses dated May 4, 2022, submitted that the signature of these witnesses in the first seizure memo have been obtained by misrepresentation and that their signatures had been fabricated in the second seizure memo.

The Court was further apprised that although the minor victim had died, her dying declaration may not have been recorded and accordingly a prayer was made to change the concerned investigating officer. Furthermore, it was also submitted that allegations pertaining to the two seizure witnesses must also be enquired into. The counsel for the petitioner also revived the prayed for a CBI probe by placing reliance on the Supreme Court judgment in K.V. Rajendran v. Superintendent Of Police.

On the contrary, Advocate General S.N Mookherjee opposed the plea for a CBI probe on the ground that the Court had already considered the two affidavits of the seizure witnesses in its prior order dated May 4, 2022, and had ordered for the investigation to be carried out under the supervision of IPS officer Amit P. Javalgi. He further contended that the petitioner cannot enter into a roving enquiry without any material with respect to the allegations made.

Furthermore, although the Advocate General had in his possession the affidavit of the concerned investigating officer in response to the affidavit of the seizure witnesses, he refused to place on record such an affidavit as the issues raised is the subject matter of trial.

Pursuant to the rival submissions, the Court observed that the issue raised by the petitioner pertaining to the seizure witnesses had already been considered in its previous order and that appropriate directions to ensure proper investigation has already been issued.

The Court further opined that the truthfulness or falsity of the allegations pertaining to the seizure witnesses is the subject matter of trial. However, it was opined that since the allegations have come on record, the Court directed IPS officer Amit P. Javalgi to duly consider these allegations and ensure that the investigation is carried out in a fair manner.

Furthermore, the IPS officer was also granted liberty to change the concerned investigating officer if required in accordance with law. The IPS officer was also ordered to submit a status report pertaining to the investigation being carried out on the next date of hearing which is slated to take place on June 20.

Case Title: Pallabi Chatterjee and Ors v. State of West Bengal and other connected matters




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