Special Correspondent

Court terms police probe a mockery

Sampath's younger brother moved court for CBI probe

'Let level-headed officers be in charge of probe'

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the custodial death of Sampath, the first accused in the Sheela (of Puthoor in Palakkad) murder case.

Allowing a writ petition filed by Murukeshan, younger brother of Sampth, seeking a CBI probe, Justice V. Ramkumar observed: “The investigation in this case by the State police has turned out to be a mockery with only perfunctory attempts to weave a seemingly plausible story of a torture while in police custody. Much strain is not necessary to infer that there has been an orchestrated attempt to shield certain officers in the higher echelons of police and to make certain officers of relatively lower rank scapegoats”.

‘Death chambers'

It was “shocking to realise” that police lock-ups in the State had turned out to be ‘death chambers,' the judge added.

The court observed that this was an unfortunate case which tended to shake the credibility of police investigation and undermine the faith of the common man in the State police force which was supposed to protect the life and liberty of the citizen and maintain law and order.

The petitioner had said that as senior officers were involved in the case, the investigation should be entrusted to the CBI. Sampath (26), who was arrested on March 28, died allegedly due to custodial torture on March 30.

The court said that it was true that Unnirajan, Superintendent of Police who was in charge of the investigation in the Sampath murder case, was widely acclaimed as an officer of integrity and proven ability. However, the petitioner's apprehension that those in power would not allow the officer to conduct an impartial investigation did not appear to be “totally unfounded.”

The court noted that Vijay Sakre, Superintendent of Police, Palakkad, was “piloting the operation manhunt” for Sampath. The Crime Branch had detected falsification and manipulation of entries in the general diary and other registers in the police station.

The court said that if there was a feeling that this verdict would ‘dampen' the morale of the State police, the State and its agencies alone should be blamed. Investigation of sensational murder cases should be entrusted to “level-headed officers and not to daredevils.”

The Judge said that the officer in charge of the investigation should be an officer of proven record.

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