Bench asks the investigating agency to submit its report in three months

The Gauhati High Court has ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into allegations of two sisters of Karbi Anglong hill district that they were subjected to “serious violation of human rights” at the instance of senior Minister in Tarun Gogoi’s Cabinet, Khor Sing Engti, who holds the portfolios of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary, Hill Areas, Mines and Minerals.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice A.K. Goswami has given three months’ time to the CBI to submit its report.

The two sisters Radhika Shah and Gayatri Shah wrote a letter to the Chief Justice on May 4, 2012 alleging that they and their family had been undergoing physical and mental torture for the past six years. They alleged that they were branded witches, tied with a fishing net and made to consume human excreta and even undressed before the villagers. Their property was damaged with a view to grabbing their land adjacent to the residence of the Minister in a village under Howraghat police station, they added.

Mr. Engti, however, submitted before the Court that he was not involved in any such incident as alleged by the two sisters. He said the allegations against him had been made at the behest of his political opponents.

The Shah sisters also alleged that they lodged an FIR with the local police on November 1, 2010 but the police failed to take appropriate action. They then lodged a complaint with the Assam Human Rights Commission, on which a report was furnished by the Inspector General of Police (Logistic) holding that the local police was negligent in taking action and that illegal harassment had taken place.

The Court took suo motu cognisance of the letter written by the sisters and on June 7, 2012, directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to look into the matter and file their respective affidavits apart from issuing necessary instructions for protection of life and liberty of the sisters.

The DGP filed an affidavit stating that with regard to alleged incidents which occurred on October 10 and 11, 2010 a case under Sections 342/352/307/427/ 379/506 of IPC was registered and investigated. The accused were arrested and a charge sheet was submitted finding prima facie case against the accused. An affidavit was also filed by the Deputy Commissioner, Karbi Anglong, stating that a proposal was sent to the State government for sanction of a sum of Rs. 50,000 as financial assistance to the victims on November 14 which was duly paid.

The Court on November 12, 2012 observed that while the affidavit had been filed by the DGP, no affidavit was filed by the Chief Secretary.

“On 30.8.2012, this Court was informed that action has been taken for the lapse of the authorities concerned and affidavit in this regard will be filed within one month. No such affidavit has been filed. From above facts and circumstances, it appears that there is a failure of duty by the functionaries of the State concerned and it is possible to draw inference against the Minister Shri Engti for abuse of his position and commission of crime. The matter may require appropriate investigation by some independent agency to uphold the rule of law,” observed a Division Bench of the court comprising Chief Justice A.K. Goel and Justice Anima Hazarika in its order on November 12, 2012 while listing the case for January 22.

The Bench also directed the Court Registry to issue notice to Mr. Engti stating that before proceeding further the court considered it appropriate to give an opportunity to Mr. Engti to put forward his version in the matter.