SC cautions courts on investigating agencies

Courts should be cautious to ensure that deliberate attempts of investigating agencies to facilitate escape of the accused is thwarted, the Supreme Court said.

New Delhi: Courts should be cautious to ensure that deliberate attempts of investigating agencies to facilitate escape of the accused is thwarted by relying on other evidence, the Supreme Court has said.

Upholding the life sentence of four persons in a murder case, a bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Ibrahim Kalifulla also initiated contempt proceedings against the DG, health services of UP/Uttarakhand, for failing to initiate action against one Dr CN Tewari who deliberately fudged a postmortem report to save accused.

The apex court also directed the DGP UP/Uttarakhand to take appropriate action in accordance with the service rules against SI Kartar Singh, irrespective of the fact whether he is in service or has since retired, in the case relating to 1985.

"Where the prosecution attempts to misdirect the trial on the basis of a perfunctory or designedly defective investigation, there the court is to be deeply cautious and ensure that despite such an attempt, the determinative process is not sub-served.”

"For truly attaining this object of a `fair trial`, the court should leave no stone unturned to do justice and protect the interest of the society as well," Justice Swatanter Kumar writing the judgement said.

The apex court dismissed the appeal filed by Dayal Singh and other accused challenging the life term imposed on them for the murder of one Pyara Singh on December 08, 1985 in the then undivided Uttar Pradesh`s Udham Singh Nagar district.

The bench expressed surprised as to how the SI and the doctor who performed the postmortem did not give any specific finding for the death of Singh despite being beaten to death in front of eyewitnesses.

Though the investigating agency failed to produce sufficient material to ensure their conviction, the trial court convicted the accused on the basis of eyewitness. The high court had affirmed it.

"It will be beyond apprehension as to how a healthy person could die, if there were no injuries on his body and when, admittedly, it was not a case of cardiac arrest or death by poison etc, more so, when he was alleged to have been assaulted with dandas (sticks) by four persons simultaneously," the court said.

"In any case, the doctor gave no cause for death of the deceased and prepared a postmortem report which ex facie was incorrect and tantamount to abrogation of duty.”

"If he was not able to record a finding with regard to the cause of death, he was expected to record some reason in support thereof," the bench said.

Similarly, the SI who was the investigating officer has also failed in performing his duty in accordance with law, the bench said.

"Firstly, for not recording the reasons given by Dr CN Tewari for non-mentioning of injuries on the postmortem report.”

"Secondly, for not sending to the FSL the viscera and other samples collected from the body of the deceased by Dr CN Tewari, who allegedly handed over the same to the police, and their disappearance.”

"There is clear callousness and irresponsibility on their part and deliberate attempt to misdirect the investigation to favour the accused," the apex court observed.

The bench said police officers and doctors, by their profession, are required to maintain "duty decorum" of high standards as the prestige of the profession are dependent upon the action of such specialised persons, it said.


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