Recently Uttarnachal High Court upheld that the fair investigation and fair trail form an essential part of the Right to Life, enshrined under Part III of Indian Constitution. The verdict was made by Justice Ravindra Maithani, in the backdrop of a petition seeking transfer of the case from the Police Station of Haldwani, Nanital to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).  

The husband of the petitioner was booked under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO). He was then arrested and aged in the Police Station. He was remanded to judicial custody on 05-03-2021 by the court of Additional District Judge/FTC/Special Judge, POCSO. But, the new day he was admitted to the hospital. According to OPD register of the hospital he suddenly fell on the ground.  Eventually, the person died. According to his postmortem report, his body had ten injuries which were not present when he was taken into the custody. the petitioner was informed about the death but the reason for injury was not explained to her.

Petitioner filed application to District Legal Services Authority (DLS), Nanital. DLS forward the application to SSP, Nanital to take necessary action. Instead of lodging an FIR, the SSP, Nainital got an inquiry conducted by Circle Officer Police, Haldwani and thereafter, informed the Secretary, DLSA that since Magisterial inquiry is underway, any further action may be taken only after the perusal of the Magisterial inquiry.

The Court observed that FIR was lodged after 45 days of death in a judicial custody. So, how one can expect fair trail ? The court accepted the fact that, Fair investigation and fair trial are necessary ingredients of right to life and that the cases of Custodian Violences and deaths have increased in recent years. 

The Court relying on Dr Naresh Kumar Mangla v. Anita Agarwal, 2020 stated that the power which is vested in the superior court to transfer the investigation to another agency, such as the CBI, must be wielded with caution. The Court finally opined that the instant case was not an ordinary case. Allegations were of custodial death. Having considered the manner in which police proceeded in the case, the Court found that it is a case in which definitely investigation should be transferred to CBI. 

The court issued some directions to ensure fair trail and investigation – 

  1. 1.The Police of Haldwani, Nanital should immediately transfer the case to CBI. 
  2. 2. All the documents related to the case should be handed to the S.P, CBI, Dehraun within the period of three days.
  3. 3.The accused should be transferred to the some other district so that fair investigation and trail can be done.
  4. 4.The transfer of SSP, Nanital and CO Police Haldwani should be considered immediately from district Nainital.
  5. 5. A departmental enquiry should be done against the SSP, Nanital as he did not perform his legal duty of lodging an FIR and also without authority passed the case to CO Police Haldwanifor investigation in a grave case of Custodial Death.

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