On Wednesday, Justice Lila Gill’s Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, rebuking the state police for not carrying out “thorough and proper probe” into a youth’s alleged murder and passing it off as a suicide case,ordered a CBI probe into an over three-year old alleged honour killing case from Haryana’s Mahendergarh district.
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The victim in the case was a 25 year old boy belonging to the Yadav community who was allegedly having an affair with the girl of a upper caste Brahmin family. Ram Kumar, the petitioner and the victim’s father, has submitted before the high court that the girl’s family was displeased with the affair. As a result of this, on April 4, 2017, they took the boy to their house and murdered him, before hanging him from a ceiling fan. On the other hand, the respondents have argued that the boy committed suicide out of shame, when he was locked in a room in the girl’s house, on being caught for trespass. The girl’s family even registered a case of house trespass against him on April 13, 2017, despite the boy succumbing to death at a hospital on April 12, 2017.
The court observed that the police authorities had concluded the case as a suicide only on the basis of medical opinion which in itself proceeded on a presumption that the absence of bruises, nail marks/finger marks at the border of ligature around the neck meant that the death could not be homicidal. The court after studying the Crime Scene Report and the photographs of the door of the Baithak, also noted the improbability of the youth managing to hang himself using the fan in the ‘baithak’ in the manner suggested, while the accused were on guard outside waiting for his family to arrive.
In consideration of this, Justice Lisa Gill observed “The evidence on record, at this stage, does not prima facie point to a suicidal death. In any case, this aspect has clearly not been investigated properly. The manner in which the police authorities have proceeded in this matter indeed casts suspicion on the manner and quality of investigation… Present is clearly an exceptional situation and in order to dispense complete justice it is necessary to direct an independent investigation to be conducted by the CBI into the incident and circumstances leading to the death of the petitioner’s son.”
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Noting thus, Justice Gill, by the powers granted to the High Courts and Supreme Court under Article 226 and Article 32 of The Indian Constitution, as stated by the Constitutional Bench judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of State of West Bengal and others Vs. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, West Bengal and others, (2010) 3 SCC 571, ordered the matter to be investigated by the CBI for fair and impartial enquiry.
Section 302, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Punishment for murder. —
Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 120A, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
120A. Definition of criminal conspiracy. —
When two or more persons agree to do, or cause to be done, —
- an illegal act, or
- an act which is not illegal by illegal means, such an agreement is designated a criminal conspiracy: Provided that no agreement except an agreement to commit an offence shall amount to a criminal conspiracy unless some act besides the agreement is done by one or more parties to such agreement in pursuance thereof. Explanation. —It is immaterial whether the illegal act is the ultimate object of such agreement, or is merely incidental to that object.
Section 120B, The Indian Penal Code, 1860
120B. Punishment of criminal conspiracy. —
- Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence.
- Whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.
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Article 32, The Constitution of India, 1949
- Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part
- The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.
- The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warrant and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.
- Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2).
- The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.
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Article 226, The Constitution of India, 1949
- Power of High Courts to issue certain writs
- Notwithstanding anything in Article 32 every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercise jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose
- The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories
- Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without
- furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and
- giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the aid next day, stand vacated
- The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme court by clause (2) of Article 32
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With over 356 cases of honour killings taking place from 2014-2016 and NCRB’s refusal to publish any further data under the veil of it being too ‘vague’, it is safe to say that Ambedkar’s vision of a united India free of narrow divisions of caste, creed, religion and gender is far from being achieved. If nothing, this case bears testimony to hundreds of cases of honour killings that would either never be investigated or would be labelled as ‘suicide’ or ‘accidental death’, thus saving the accused from any punishment. It shows how systems of repression operate to save the rich and the higher classes, with the police acting as the protector of the wealthy rather than the needy. In such systems, how can one even expect the truth to come out? How can we deliver justice to the marginalised when even the police fails at its job?
Justice Lila Gill has given us the answer. She noted that the CBI was already overburdened and was facing constraints of manpower and paraphernalia, and yet decided to hand over the case to the CBI to provide credibility in the investigation and ensure complete justice. If this was not done, then on what evidence would the court rely on? The one submitted to it by the corrupt and unscrupulous police men?
This is the only way the truth can come out. This is the only way future honour killings can be deterred. This is the only way Justice can be served.
For Case specific advice, please contact top/best/expert/ Criminal Punjab Haryana High Court Advocates Lawyers in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali Kharar Derabassi Zirakpur
This post is written by Soumya Nayyar
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