Supreme Court directs Chennai Police DIG to monitor investigation into 2011 murder of law graduate

The Supreme Court has directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, local range in Chennai to monitor and be a signatory to the status report to be submitted to the Court in the investigation into a death of a 24-year-old law graduate whose body found in the ICF Lake in 2011. 

The appeal is preferred by R. Sankarasubbu, an advocate and a senior member of Madras High Court Bar Association seeking proper investigation regarding the untravelled death of his son challenging the order passed by Madras High Court. By way of the Special Leave Petition, the petitioner prays for the direction to High Court to revive the SIT to do complete the investigation and by directing custodial interrogation of Suresh Babu and others police officials.

The bench comprising of Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant referred to the status report filed by CB-CID, Chennai and directed the counsel appearing on behalf of the State Tamil Nadu to make sure that the Investigating Officer is pursuing the investigation. The bench stated that the report has to be filed by May second week and the next hearing has been listed for May 13.

Senior Advocate R. Basant, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, seeks the bench to appoint certain officers of a certain rank to investigate. He states, “the message should go loud and clear that we will not tolerate this.”

Habeas Corpus writ had been filed in Madras High Court seeking the relief of production of the body of his missing son Sathish Kumar, aged 24 years as due to lack of manpower, the Inspector of Police is not conducting any effective scientific investigation to secure his son.

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It was submitted that Sathish met the Controller of Examinations of Dr Ambedkar Law University and made a request to furnish a provisional certificate to enrol himself before the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council, Chennai on completion of his Law course. The next day, Sathish left home and did not return. The petitioner tried calling him through his cell number but there was no response. The petitioner then contacted the Commissioner of Police and requested him to trace his whereabouts with help of a cell phone tower location by cybercrime police. They were able to locate the motorcycle in which the cell phone was kept. A missing man complaint was registered at Thirumangalam Police station.

On the first hearing, the division bench of Madras High Court directed the commissioner of police to form a special team for tracing Satish. Eventually, 5 teams were formed and serious efforts were being taken to trace Sathish Kumar.

Later in the course, a TV news channel broadcast the news of a male body floating in the ICF lake, which was of Sathish. According to the post-mortem conducted by a special team of 3 doctors, it was revealed that Sathish have died of shock and haemorrhage due to cut injuries in the throat. Further, the investigation was transferred to CBI as demanded by the petitioner.

Meanwhile, an affidavit was filed by Inspector of Police, N Suresh Babu and other officials seeking an apology for making alterations to court records. Therefore, the petitioner filed an application seeking direction to CBI to conduct custodial interrogation of the said police officers on the ground of grave omission and commission leading to tampering of evidence. The investigation of transferred to CBI (Delhi) by CBI (Chennai).

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The petitioner, then contended that the CBI rather than bringing the truth before Court, was trying to close the case as one of suicide and hence, sought an interim direction for the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a retired Judge of the Madras High Court.

CBI also recommended initiating major penalty proceedings against Mohd. Yusuf SSI, N.K Vanthia, Mohd. Nazar, Inspector of Police and Suresh Babu, Inspector of Police, for omissions and commissions on their part and also as against Dr. M. Baratanh, Assistant Director, Medical Forensic Science Laboratory.

Meanwhile, the Secretaries of Tamil Nadu Advocates Association and MHAA got impleaded seeking custodial interrogation of Suresh Babu, Inspector of Police alleging grave omission and commission leading to tampering of evidence. As the entire lawyer’s fraternity was stunned by the incident, the Women's Lawyer's Association and MHAA joined the request for the formation of SIT. Therefore, SIT was constituted headed by Mr. R.K. Raghavan, former Director, CBI.

The SIT reveals that it is a case of homicide resulting from cut-throat injuries, yet the case is undetected and recommended penal action against 6 police officials of the Tamil Nadu State Police and departmental action against two police officials of the CBI which was later opposed by the CBI on part of power and jurisdiction.

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The Madras High Court observed that, we have to keep a full stop to this internecine warfare between the C.B.I. and the S.I.T. Since this Court was not satisfied with the investigation of the C.B.I., the S.I.T. was constituted to unravel the mystery behind the murder of Sathish Kumar, independently and not with any intent to pick holes in the investigation of the other agencies.

The CBI came to the conclusion that the case is of suicide whereas the SIT has concluded that the death of Satish is a homicide but the accused is undetected. Under such circumstances, the High Court was of the opinion that the task of detecting the offender should be entrusted to the CB-CID (Metro), Chennai. The Court had directed it to file its status report every four months before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, Chennai.