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Right to life involves fair investigation and fair trial: Uttarkhand High Court

Right to life involves fair investigation and fair trial is upheld by the Uttarakhand High Court in the case of Bharti v. State of Uttarakhand (Writ Petition (Criminal) No.924 of 2021) through Justice Ravindra Maithani.

 

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioner in the instant case, filed a report against her husband under Sections 323, 504, and 345 of the IPC and Section 9 read with 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (POCSO). As a result, he was detained and taken to a police station.

Later, the court of Additional District Judge, POCSO remanded him into detention. His sudden fall to the ground and referral to Base Hospital were noted in the OPD registration of the Sub-Jail Hospital in Haldwani. It was later noted that he was brought dead. When he was alive, there were no injuries on his body, despite what his post-mortem report claimed.

In contrast to what was true when he was taken into jail, his post-mortem report said that he had eleven injuries on his body. While the petitioner was told of the death, she was not given any information regarding the cause of the injuries.

The application was sent to SSP by the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority (abbreviated “DLSA”), so that it may be processed as soon as possible. Instead of filing a FIR, the SSP in Nainital requested an investigation be made by the Circle Officer Police in Haldwani. He then notified the Secretary of the DLSA that as the Magisterial inquiry was already in progress, no further action could be done until it had been fully reviewed.

In accordance with Section 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the petitioner contacted the Magistrate of Competent Jurisdiction once more, and after an order was issued, an FIR under Section 302 of the IPC was filed at the police station against four named Guards of the Sub-Jail, Haldwani. The petitioner in this instance requested that the CBI take over the inquiry.

The petitioner then submitted an application to the Secretary of the DLSA, Nainital, detailing how her spouse passed away while in judicial custody.

 

JUDGEMENT

The Court emphasised that incidents of custodian violence and fatalities have often come up for resolution before the higher Courts. The Court cited the case of Dr. Naresh Kumar Mangla v. Anita Agarwal, 2020 where it was held that the superior court’s authority to delegate the inquiry to another body, like the CBI, must be used carefully.

Finally, the  Court declared that the current instance was not a typical case. Allegations of death in custody were made. The Court determined that the case is one in which the CBI should most definitely be involved in the probe after taking into account how the police handled the situation.

The Court held that right to life involves fair investigation and fair trial. Accordingly, the Court held that the investigation under Section 302 IPC to be transferred from the police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the investigating officer must make sure that S.P., CBI, Dehradun receives all investigation-related papers within three days.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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