The Jharkhand High Court on Monday (12th October) reprimanded the state police for its shoddy investigation in a case where a lady along with her three minor children died because of extensive burn injuries and the allegation is against in-laws, of burning her along with her minor children.
It was submitted before the Court that the police is taking all efforts to sabotage the investigation and are also taking all efforts to help the accused persons so that they can escape from the clutches law.
To this, the Bench of Justice Ananda Sen observed,
"The allegation of sabotaging an investigation and helping accused persons is a very serious allegation."
The Bench further observed,
"The police, who are investigating a heinous offence, like the one, which is in hand, has to act professionally with utmost sense of responsibility while investigating the offence. There is no room for any laches or laxity while investigating a heinous crime against women and children, nor any laches can be tolerated. The margin of error is zero."
Facts of the case
A case was instituted upon a first information report lodged by this petitioner. The FIR was lodged under Sections 302, 120B & 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
This is a case where the daughter of this petitioner along with her three minor children died of severe burn injuries. In the FIR, the informant stated that the daughter of the informant was married six years ago.
On 09.06.2020, in the morning, the informant received the information that his daughter along with her three minor children is burnt and are undergoing treatment at Referral Hospital, Rajdhanwar.
He stated in the FIR that in the presence of Doctor and Police personnel, his daughter told him that her husband Rajendra Kumar Yadav and five other named persons burnt her and her children.
In this writ application, the petitioner prayed to take appropriate legal action against the named accused persons, on the ground that no action had been taken against them and they are roaming free and they are also giving continuous threat to the petitioner not to pursue this case.
The Petitioner also prayed that a direction be given to initiate a departmental action against the Investigating Officer and other police officials, who have acted to defeat the purpose of law in helping the accused persons.
From the argument of the petitioner and the statements, which were made in the petition, the Court found that serious allegation had been levelled against the Investigating Officer and the police officials.
While observing the Case diary, the Court was shocked to see the manner in which the investigation of this sensitive and heinous crime had preceded. The Court noted that not only the investigation, but also the supervision had not been done professionally or seriously.
In this context, the Court observed,
"To my utter surprise, I do not find any statement of the Doctor or the Nurses in the case diary. The fact whether there was any doctor or nurse present has also not been mentioned in the case diary. Investigation is silent on this point. Neither there is anything on the record to suggest that no statement was given by the daughter of the informant before any Doctor or Nurse. No investigation has been done on this aspect."
Further the Court said,
"This theory or the fact (that the Deceased had some relationship with one Gopal Yadav, S/o Late Kartik Mahto and the deceased used to remain in contact with him) which the Supervising Officer has noted down (in the case diary), is not backed by any material. In the entire case diary, which has been produced before this Court, I found no statement of any of the witnesses, who has stated the aforesaid fact. This Court failed to understand as to how and from where the Supervising Officer gathered this fact."
The Court was also surprised as to why the transcription of the video recorded dying declaration did not find place in the entire case diary. Even the gist of what has been said was also mentioned in the entire case diary.
"Is the Investigating Officer or the Supervising Authority trying to hide something?", the Court noted.
Further, the Court remarked,
"I find that without there being any material, the Supervising Authority propounded a new theory that this incident can be a case of suicide also. What is the basis of propounding the said theory by the Supervising Authority is also unknown. The case diary suggests nothing which can give rise to the aforesaid suspicion."
Court's Observations regarding the role of the Supervising Authority
Prima facie, the Court observed that neither the Investigating Officer nor the Supervising Authority performed their duties and that if this be the style of the investigation, the prosecution cannot succeed finally during trial.
The Court took judicial notice of the fact that on 08.10.2020 in W.P. (Cr.) No. 127 of 2020, the Court in an investigation, which had also arisen out of an occurrence in the District of Giridih, had deprecated the manner in which the investigation and supervision was been done.
Today, in this case, when the Court put a question to the Superintendent of Police, Giridih, whether the Supervising Authority is the same officer, he, after going through the records, submitted that the Supervising Authority of that particular case, which was dealt with by this Court in W.P. (Cr.) No. 127 of 2020, is the same.
In that case also there was an allegation that the Authorities were helping the accused persons. Thus, the Court observed that in two successive cases prima-facie the conduct of the same Supervising Authority, who is SDPO, Khori Mahua, has come under the cloud, which needs investigation by the higher authority.
Court's Directions to the DGP
On Court's direction, the Director General of Police, Jharkhand appeared before the Court and after assessing the entire matter and considering the way the Supervising Authority and the Investigating Officer had investigated the case, he submitted before the Court that he will hand over the investigation of this case to the CID.
He also submitted that he will set up an inquiry against the Investigating Officer and the Supervising Authority, and in the meantime he will take steps so that those police personnel will not be in a position to interfere or participate in investigation.
Considering the fair submission of the Director General of Police and the material, which surfaced in this case, the Court directed the Director General of Police, to immediately transfer the investigation of this case to CID.
It was further directed that he should set up an independent inquiry on the role of the Investigating Officer and the Supervising Authority and proceed accordingly, if there are materials to proceed against them.
It was made clear that steps should be taken by the Director General of Police, Jharkhand to ensure that the Supervising Authority or the Investigating Officer no way remain connected with this investigation and further if possible till the investigation is concluded against them, they should not be entrusted with any investigation or supervision of any criminal investigation.
With the aforesaid observations and directions, this writ application stood disposed of.
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