Allahabad HC Rejects Shahjahanpur Law Student's Application Imputing Bias On Part Of SIT [Read Order]


30 April 2020 2:41 PM GMT

  • Allahabad HC Rejects Shahjahanpur Law Students Application Imputing Bias On Part Of SIT [Read Order]

    The Allahabad High Court on Thursday rejected an application moved by the Shahjahanpur law student, alleging bias on part of the SIT that had investigated her rape case and also the extortion case filed against her. In a detailed judgment, a bench comprising Justices Manoj Misra and Deepak Verma expressed its satisfaction on the way the state-appointed SIT had investigated the...

    The Allahabad High Court on Thursday rejected an application moved by the Shahjahanpur law student, alleging bias on part of the SIT that had investigated her rape case and also the extortion case filed against her.

    In a detailed judgment, a bench comprising Justices Manoj Misra and Deepak Verma expressed its satisfaction on the way the state-appointed SIT had investigated the cases and dismissed the allegations of bias.

    "We are satisfied that the investigating agency has duly investigated all aspects and after thorough investigation has submitted police report under section 173(2) CrPC in both the cases. Hence, no further action is required in these proceedings," the bench held.

    This is the same bench which was appointed at the direction of the Supreme Court, to monitor the investigation being conducted by the SIT.


    The law student who has accused former Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of sexual harassment was later booked on the charges of extortion in a cross FIR filed by Chinmayanand.

    Investigation in both the cases was conducted by a SIT headed by Naveen Arora, Inspector General of Grievances, and a final report was submitted before the trial court in Lucknow.

    Arguments & Findings

    The student had moved the High Court against the SIT investigation highlighting the biased approach of the SIT which according to her conducted the entire investigation under the influence of prime accused Chinmayanand, who enjoys "political clout" in the ruling party.

    She highlighted that the investigating agency proceeded with a view to "find out faults" in the case set up by her against Chinmayanad and therefore the investigation stood vitiated.

    Dispelling these allegations, the division bench held that the investigating agency had "duly investigated" all aspects in the matter.

    It held that the SIT opposed Chinmayanand's bail application "tooth and nail", which resulted in its rejection by the court of sessions. Thus, it could not be said that the investigating agency was biased.

    (Chinamyanand was released on bail by the Allahabad High Court in February this year on the order of Justice Justice Rahul Chaturvedi, who made stray remarks on the case and said "both used each other".)

    The bench also clarified that since a FIR had been registered against the law student for extortion, the SIT was "under an obligation" to investigate the matter keeping both sets of allegations in mind. Thus, it could not be said that the SIT proceeded with a view to find her faults.

    SIT tried to malign the law student

    She had alleged that the SIT focused on the extortion case to malign her image in the public. She pointed out that the press conference held by the SIT to demonstrate that she was involved in extortion not only infringed upon her right to privacy but also maligned her image in public so as to "break her spirit".

    In response to this argument, the bench said that merely because press conferences were held it would not mean that the investigation is tainted or was biased.

    It remarked that "in sensitive matters it may become inevitable to apprise the media about developments." And while it cautioned that investigating agencies must "exercise restraint" and restrict the conference just to disclose the status of the investigation, the same will not affect the legality of the investigation.

    "A detailed conference disclosing material and opinion may result in prejudging the issue and may also have serious repercussions on the safety of the victim, accused and the witnesses," the bench cautioned.

    Chinmayanand was offered 'special treatment'

    She had also alleged that Chinmayanand was offered special treatment by the SIT and was accorded a celebrity treatment in the jail as if he was a "State Guest". Her lawyer pointed out that the police made no effort to recover the mobile phones of Chinmayanand through which he made objectionable recordings of the law student and only those mobile phones were taken from Chinmayanand which he tendered for examination.

    "Thus, it is clear that the investigating agency did not pursue the investigation with due diligence," the law student had argued.

    On this aspect the court held that "merely because a mobile instrument was not recovered would not suggest that the investigation was not conducted properly."

    In fact, the court went on to note that the mobile instruments that were taken from the accused were sent for forensic examination to find out whether any such clip was present or was deleted. As per the affidavit filed by the Government, no such clip or its deletion was found.

    Dilution of Charges against Chinmayanand

    The law student also raised the issue of "dilution of charges" as Chinmayanand was charged with Section 376C of IPC and not Section 376. (Section 376C criminalizes sexual intercourse by a person in authority and provides for a punishment of 5 to 10 years. Section 376 on the other hand, punishes rape with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment)

    On this issue, the High Court held that the investigating agency is "free to form its own opinion" as regards the offence found committed.

    It clarified that such opinion is not "binding" on the court and the court can form its own opinion as regards the offence found committed and can accordingly charge the accused on the basis of material collected during the course of investigation.

    "Charge can be altered even after commencement of trial on the basis of evidence received during the course of trial. Hence, it would not be appropriate on our part to comment at this stage upon the opinion formed by the investigating agency with regard to the nature of the offence committed by the accused," the bench said.

    SIT assaulted law student's family

    The student also informed the court that her family was harassed and assaulted by the police, at the direction of the SIT. Citing certain instances, she had pointed out that both her mother and father were mercilessly beaten by the SIT during interrogation and were exhorted to confess that they were involved in extortion.

    Pertinently, she submitted that her family could not get medical examination conducted anywhere as they were under "constant vigil" of the SIT and thus urged for court's leave to place on record certain mobile photographs, demonstrating the injuries suffered by her family.

    Accordingly, she had sought for constitution of a fresh investigation team to look into her case. She had also prayed for an appropriate action against the officials of the existing SIT for adopting a biased approach against her and assaulting her family members.

    "It appears that the entire effort of the investigating agency was to reduce the gravity of the allegation made against the accused Chinmayanand and to demonstrate that the victim herself had been guilty. It has been submitted that such an approach on the part of the investigating agency has vitiated the entire investigation and therefore fresh investigation team should be constituted and investigation should be carried out afresh," the law student's Advocate Swetashwa Agarwal had submitted.

    Rejecting this submission the court held that there was no medical evidence to support the allegations of assault.

    "The photographs of the face of the mother of Miss A are not such from which any definite conclusion with regard to her custodial torture could be drawn. We are therefore, in these proceedings, not in a position to form a definite opinion as regards custodial torture of Miss A and her family," the court observed.

    Under these circumstances, the application was dismissed with a clarification that "any observations made in this order would not preclude the concerned court, which is seized of the matter after taking cognizance on the police report, from passing any such order which it may deem fit and proper in accordance with law."

    Case Details:

    Case Title: In Re Missing Of An LLM Student At Swami Shukdevanand Law College (SS Law College) v. State of UP

    Case No.: Crl. Misc. WP No. 21181/2019

    Quorum: Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Deepak Verma

    Appearance: Advocates Deba Siddiqui and Swetashwa Agarwal (for Petitioner); Govt Advocates Manish Singh and Rajrshi Gupta (for State)

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