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Gauhati HC Directs DGP To Conclude Investigation Into Mysterious Death Of A Minor Girl

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The Gauhati High Court has directed DGP, Arunachal Pradesh to personally ensure that the investigation by SIT into alleged rape and murder of a minor girl shall be concluded at the earliest while stating that inquest proceedings indicate that death might be due to either homicidal or suicidal causes. 

The High Court took the suo motu cognizance of a news paper report published in the ‘Assam Tribune’, The Telegraph’ and ‘Times of India’, on 8th June 2019. In these articles, it was reported that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, had appealed to the Home Ministry to take immediate steps to ensure proper investigation of unnatural death of a 12 years old girl in Arunachal Pradesh, Naharlagun. 

It was reported that the girl whose parents originally hail from Dolahat Tea Estate, Lakhimpur, Assam was found hanging on 20th May 2019. She along with family members used to work in Naharlagun. 

The Court took suo moto cognizance of alleged lapses in the investigation conducted regarding the alleged rape and unnatural death of a minor girl.

The gist of the matter is that Police was informed through telephone from the house of Shri Techi Kaso on 20th May 2019 that daughter of his watchman had committed suicide by hanging at his residence in the village, by the time police reached on the spot, the dead body had already been brought down and taken to the house of the Girl’s father, dupatta by which the body was hanging had already been burnt and the door of the room was broken.

Whereas, the family denied filing an FIR, and the family was not willing to give the body for postmortem. A request was made that last rites be performed to be conducted as per catholic norms which was allowed by the Sub-Inspector.

The Court said, it appears that no action was taken, although evidently a young girl had died on account of either homicidal or suicidal causes, which fact was evident through inquest proceedings. Inquest proceedings do indicate that ligature mark was seen on the neck of the deceased and cause of death appears to be suicide by hanging/death due to hanging. Cognizable offence having been committed, it was the duty of the investigating agency to register the FIR and conduct investigation. 

However, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights met the parents of the girl and an Unnatural Death case was registered under section 174 of CrPC. On persuasion it was found that there were procedural lapses and Departmental inquiry has been instituted against the erring officers another criminal case has been registered against the officers being investigated by a Special Investigation Team. Subsequently, the suspensions were revoked, without prejudice to departmental enquiry.

Progress in investigation has been indicated by way of examination of CCTV footage; exhumation of the body; taking photographs of the place of incidents and recording statements of various witnesses. The facts that emerge are that driver of Shri Techi Kaso, Shri Sanu Biswakarma admitted to having an affair with the victim ‘A’. He conceded the fact that he had sex with the victim a number of times. However, he revealed that on the date and time of the incident, no such sexual act was performed,” Court Noted.  

Postmortem examination report on the exhumed body indicated that “cause of death could not be ascertained.” So far as sexual incident, immediately before the death is concerned, CFSL, Hyderabad vide the report dated 9th September, 2019 opined that no foreign body/product of conception/foetus could be found.

The Court said, “The finding revealed that the victim ‘A’ had committed suicide on 20th May, 2019 in between 0500 hrs to 0600 hrs, which fact is clearly established by CCTV footage and statement of witnesses. Since the dupatta had already been burnt, the ligature mark could not be connected with the same. So far as the age of the victim is concerned, it was found to be in between 13 to 15 years. All the witnesses examined revealed that the victim had not been employed as a maid at the residence of Shri Techi Kaso.”

Court Noted that the investigation is said to be pending only awaiting CFSL report on CDR/CCTV footage. 

“Considering the investigation conducted till date, as per the report submitted through affidavit by Shri Tumme Amo, Superintendent of Police, Capital Complex, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, we find no reason to keep this petition pending. This is also because the Court has been assured that Section 305 I.P.C. and other penal provisions that are attracted in case of rape and such death have been invoked,” Said Court. 

Court held, “the petition is disposed of, however, with direction to Director General of Police, Arunachal Pradesh to personally ensure that the Special Investigation Team constituted for the purpose of investigation of the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl is concluded at the earliest. The CFSL Agency, where the report is pending be contacted so as to ensure receipt of reports at the earliest.”

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