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SIT’s Prima Facie Findings Against Police Officials, Raiding Party Are ‘Plausible’ In Anis Khan Death: In Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court refused to transfer the case’s investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation because it found that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the State government in the death of student activist Anis Khan’s preliminary findings are credible (CBI).

In the case of Salem Khan v. The State of West Bengal & Ors (WPA No. 3271 of 2022), Honourable Justice Rajasekhar Mantha noted that the SIT had implicated specific police officers in its investigation report and had further found the raiding party’s behavior to be improper.

In support of these preliminary conclusions, the Court stated: “The SIT claims that the evidence points to the actions and inactions of a number of people, including police officers. The SIT determined that both the raiding party’s mistakes and the raid itself were flawed. The initial accusations made against these people are reasonable, but they are still subject to a trial and the Sessions Court’s judgment.”

Facts of the case:

In the wee hours of February 19, 2022, Anish Khan was discovered dead at his home in the Amta block of the Howrah district. Khan’s father has claimed that his son was pushed off the third floor of their house in Amta and has demanded that the CBI conduct an investigation. He claims that four people who were dressed as police officers and civic volunteers had arrived at their home.

Senior attorney Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who was representing the father of the deceased, had earlier objected to the report produced by the SIT of the West Bengal police on the grounds that it fails to explain how and with whose permission the search of Anis Khan’s home in Amta, Howrah district, was conducted. The senior attorney had also objected to the SIT’s conclusions, calling it “ridiculous” to suggest that Anis Khan’s death was not the result of homicide as stated in the report.

The State government was represented by Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee, who informed the court that the post-mortem examination report indicates that Khan’s death was accidental and not homicidal as his father had claimed. He had also claimed that Anis Khan had fallen through an open window on the second floor of his home in Amta, Howrah district, on February 19, and that the accused individuals, a home guard and a civic volunteer, had no reason to kill him.

The two were detained by a special investigation team established by the state government and charged under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC. It is claimed that they had gone to the second floor in search of Khan.

In accordance with earlier instructions from the Court, the SIT had earlier delivered an 82-page report outlining the steps it had taken to look into Khan’s suspicious death.

A three-person SIT was formed by the West Bengal Police to look into Khan’s death. Gyanwant Singh, the Additional Director General of Police for CID, is in charge of the group.

The incident was described as “grave and shocking” by the Court, who had earlier taken suo moto cognizance of the case. It had rejected a request for a CBI investigation and allowed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which had been appointed by the State government, to carry out its investigation while being supervised by a Howrah district judge. Additionally, the Court had mandated that the SIT carry out a second postmortem under the direction of the Howrah district judge.

The Court further noted that the SIT had examined all of the interrogated parties’ statements, the polygraph test results, the forensic evidence, the call records, and had also rebuilt the crime scene.

The SIT has also prescribed criminal charges as a result of an examination of the two post-mortem reports, the testimony of the medical professionals, the sketch map of the crime scene and the recreation of it, the results of the polygraph test, and other factors.

Justice Mantha further declined to transfer the investigation to the CBI, stating that the SIT’s investigation report had already implicated some police officials and that it was therefore unfounded to believe that the SIT would protect the accused police officers.

“In this case, the SIT itself blamed some police officers in its investigation report for the way the raid was carried out. Therefore, the petitioner’s concern that the police would protect the accused police officers is unfounded. In the case at hand, there is no need to suspect improper behavior in the investigation or the trial simply because some police officers are involved because the SIT is made up of highly qualified officers. Future errors or omissions may be addressed in accordance with the Cr.provisions PC’s “the Court decided.

The court also noted that the father of the deceased had not claimed that there was a conspiracy behind his son’s death or murder in any statements made pursuant to Sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC. The evidence on record, which demonstrated that there was no scuffle at all and only a mechanical injury from the body’s impact with a blunt hard surface, was also relied upon. Thus, it was decided that the SIT was not at fault for failing to take the conspiracy angle into account when conducting its investigation.

Recording the Advocate General’s argument that the SIT’s finding that the deceased died after falling from his home’s second floor is the most logical conclusion, the Court stated, ” “Therefore, the Ld. Advocate General argues that the SIT’s finding that the deceased Anis Khan died after falling from the second floor is the most logical. Since doing so would harm the prosecution and/or the defense during the trial, this Court does not wish to go into detail about any other arguments and counterarguments put forth by the petitioner and the State.”

The Court further noted that there was no connection between the deceased’s involvement in anti-state government protests and his passing, emphasizing, ” “Similar ambiguity surrounds the mention of demonstrations against Aliah University’s land appropriation. The incidents in question happened a long time before the victim passed away. It seems unlikely that the aforementioned incidents had anything to do with the victim’s death.”

In addition, Justice Mantha stated that it is anticipated that the charge sheet will be submitted for committal and that the trial will start and end as soon as possible, but no later than six months from the date of committal.

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Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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