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SC Grants Final Opportunity To Madhya Pradesh DGP To Arrest MLA's Husband Accused Of Murder; Warns Of Coercive Steps On Failure

Mehal Jain
27 March 2021 9:05 AM GMT
SC Grants Final Opportunity To Madhya Pradesh DGP To Arrest MLAs Husband Accused Of Murder; Warns Of Coercive Steps On Failure

In connection with Congress leader Devendra Chaurasia's murder in Damoh, Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Friday pulled up the state DGP over his failure to comply with its March 12 order to arrest the accused, BSP MLA Rambai Prajapati's husband Govind Singh.

The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and M. R. Shah noted that an affidavit has been filed by the Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh stating that despite the efforts which have been made in pursuance of the previous order dated 12 March 2021, the police have not been able to apprehend and arrest the accused.

"We find the affidavit of the Director General of Police to be completely unacceptable. It defies reason as to how an accused who is the spouse of a sitting Member of the Legislative Assembly has not been arrested despite being arraigned in pursuance of the provisions of Section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 to face trial for an offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code 1860", observed the bench.

The bench went on to state that "an effort is being made to shield the accused from the due process of criminal law'.
Accordingly, the court issued a direction to the Director General of Police to take necessary steps to ensure that the previous order of this Court is complied with before April 5, being the next date of listing, failing which the Court will be constrained to take coercive steps in accordance with law.

Further, the Court was informed that earlier, the accused was even given security by the police though it was stated by Counsel for the State that it is now withdrawn.
In view of this, the bench called for further affidavit from the Director General of Police setting out:
(i) The date on which and the cause on the basis of which security was granted to the accused;
(ii) Whether the security continues to be provided as of date; and
(iii) If not, the date on which the security was withdrawn.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court had in July 2019 disposed off Chaurasia's son's plea for the cancellation of Singh's bail, Singh having been out on bail in connection with other murder cases when he had allegedly committed Chaurasia's murder. Refusing to allow the plea, the HC had directed that the investigation may be completed as far as possible within three months but not later than 90 days, that on completion of the investigation, if Singh is found involved in commission of the crime, he be immediately taken into custody and the procedure as prescribed be followed. It was also observed that neither Singh shall threaten nor influence the witnesses and the complainant side.

In February this year, the competent ASJ had issued warrant for the arrest of the accused. Subsequent to that, the said judge was being intimidated by the SP and other police officials and had complained in this behalf to the District Judge.
"The ASJ is being threatened by the SP for issuing the arrest warrant?! Is there any Rule of Law in the state?", demanded the bench on March 12
"The order of the learned Additional Sessions Judge dated 8 February 2021 indicates that he is being pressurized by the Superintendent of Police, Damoh, who, together with his subordinates, is attempting to pressurize the judicial officer. The judicial officer has expressed the apprehension that the accused who are "highly influential political persons" have raised false allegations against him and applied for transfer of the pending case which was dismissed by the District Judge after it was found to be false. The learned Additional Sessions Judge has apprehended that he may be subjected to an "unpleasant incident" in the future".
"We take serious note of the manner in which the Additional Sessions Judge, Hata who is in charge of the criminal case has been harassed by the law enforcement machinery in Damoh. We have no reason to disbelieve a judicial officer who has made an impassioned plea that he was being pressurized as a result of his orders under Section 319 of the CrPC".
"If you cannot make the arrest, admit that you have failed to conduct the administration as per the Constitution", Justice Shah had said then.
"This is jungle-raj!", Justice Chandrachud had commented on March 12, directing the DGP to forthwith secure arrest of the accused, besides providing security to the said ASJ.

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