HC raps cops on probes into crime against women

India on 06 September 2013
Location : Mumbai, India | Source : Times of India. Image Source: Flickr User HeavenHated

MUMBAI: A year after a Badlapur housewife died and was hurriedly cremated on the instructions of the local municipal councillor without a criminal case being registered, the Bombay high court reprimanded the police on the way probes into crime against women are carried out.

The court's observation came during the hearing of a bail application filed by Sugwantidevi Yadav's husband Raju Yadav. Additional public prosecutor Shahaji Shinde opposed the application.

"The safety and security of women are in peril due to such insensitive investigations," said Justice Sadhna Jadhav. "It is a sorry state of affairs that on one hand, the legislature as well as the judiciary are taking steps for sensitization of offences against women, and on the other hand investigations are being carried out in a casual manner," Jadhav said. Even when a case of dowry death was registered almost a year after Sugwantidevi died in March 2012, the court observed that the charges seemed to have been applied to weaken the case.

The judge rapped the conduct of Sunil Bhagat for allegedly instructing that the body be cremated, and later for the way the probe was handled. "It is a sorry state of affairs that a person officiating as a municipal councillor simply told (Yadav) and others to cremate the body. He had no responsibility to society, he should have informed the police. He should have referred the body for a postmortem," the judge said.

The police had filed an FIR that the woman had committed suicide almost a year later, and the court observed that there was no evidence to ascertain how she died.

"The police have been influenced by the accused, with the intervention of the municipal councillor. The charge-sheet is filed with an ulterior motive to see that the accused is acquitted," said the judge.

"Courts of law have to consider legal evidence placed before them by the investigating agency. The court cannot record moral conviction. In cases like this, there is no evidence on record even to ascertain the cause of death of Sugwantidevi coupled with the fact that there is inordinate delay in registration of the crime," Jadhav said. The court blamed the delay in registering a case on the police, who wanted to help the accused. "The delay will be fatal to the prosecution but here it is deliberate and is a calculated move by the police to protect the accused. The offenders are being screened and supported by investigating agencies and therefore there is no fear of law in the minds of offenders."

The court directed Thane police commissioner K P Raghuvanshi to look into the case and take action against the investigation officer.

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