Mysterious Death of NLU Jodhpur Law Student: SC Sends Contempt Notice to DGP
The Supreme Court Monday sent a contempt notice to the Director-General of Police (DGP) Rajasthan and other police officials of the state for concluding the mysterious death of a law student from the National Law University, Jodhpur in 2017 as an accident despite it earlier informing the Court that it was a homicidal death but admitting that there was no clue about who the offenders were.
After hearing Advocate Sunil Fernandes, for the petitioner, a bench of Justices Indira Benerjee and J.K. Maheshwari made the contempt notice returnable in January next year.
On September 16 last year, the apex court had quashed the closure report filed by the Rajasthan police on the mysterious death of a law student and directed that a de novo probe be conducted within two months.
A three-judge bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee had found the closure report a “clearly hasty action leaving much to be desired” regarding the nature of the investigation. The entire investigation and closure report was not bonafide, it added.
It had also directed that no officer who was part of the investigating team leading to the closure report would be part of the team conducting the fresh investigation.
Besides, it had ordered the appointment of a fresh team of investigators headed by a senior police officer of the state and consisting of “efficient personnel well conversant with the use of modern investigation technology also”.
The Court on December 18 last year allowed the time to complete the probe by March 31 this year.
The mother of the deceased student, in her contempt petition, has now alleged that in order to comply with the time limit within which investigation was to be completed, the police proceeded on the premises of its earlier closure report dated September 03, 2020, and has, for a mere formality, taken steps to prove their earlier theory, instead of complying with the directions passed by the Court for a de novo investigation
“What is further more astonishing is that the death of the Petitioner’s son, which according to the State of Rajasthan was accidental as stated in the Counter Affidavit filed on behalf of State of Rajasthan before this Hon’ble Court in the Writ Petition on 03.07.2020, turned out to be homicidal without the offenders being known, in the closure report dated 03.09.2020, has now been ruled accidental, again, on the basis of the same material which was collected earlier during the course of the investigating, i.e. the clothes worn by the deceased at the time of his death, the injuries on his body, etc, which by no stretch of imagination can be called a de novo investigation but only re-evaluating the material that was already available with the investigating agency, and arriving at two different sets of conclusion, with the sole intent to wrap up the investigation and brush the death of the Petitioner’s son under the carpet”, the contempt petition filed through Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Astha Sharma reads.
The petitioner contends that if the same material was available with the investigating agency more than a year and a half ago, why were steps not taken by the investigating agency to evaluate them and assess them in a manner as has been done now after the intervention of the top court.
The deceased student Vikrant Nagaich’s body was found in an open ground near the railway tracks opposite the university in 2017.
During the earlier round of litigation, the deceased’s mother had contended that the FIR was registered nearly ten months after the body was found, on June 29, 2018, after much persuasion by her and her husband. She added that the casualness and callousness of the police was reflected from the fact that neither was the crime scene sealed nor necessary investigations done with promptitude by proper examination of relevant witnesses, CCTV footage, digital footprints, mobile locations and WhatsApp chats during the relevant period of time on the day of occurrence.
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