Criticises police for shoddy investigation in most of the cases

In an unprecedented move, the Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday ordered reinvestigation into the brutal murder of a Dalit couple and their two minor girl children in Tirunelveli district on April 19, 2007 despite the case having ended in conviction and imposition of capital punishment on two individuals in December. A Division Bench of Justice M. Jaichandren and Justice S. Nagamuthu passed the order during the hearing of a statutory reference made by the trial court (II Additional District and Sessions Court, Tirunelveli) for confirmation of the death sentences, as required under Section 366 of Code of Criminal Procedure, and a joint appeal filed by the convicts challenging their conviction and sentences.

Holding that they were “totally dissatisfied” with the investigation done by the police, the judges said that it would be too difficult for them to confirm the conviction in the absence of legally acceptable evidence to prove the involvement of the duo who had been awarded death penalty.

Nevertheless, the Bench chose not to acquit them until the conclusion of re-investigation.

The judges pointed out that the investigation was flawed from the stage of registration of First Information Report (FIR) as the police had not submitted any material before the court for having given a clean chit to three other individuals suspected of committing the murders. They wondered how the police could exclude involvement of suspects named in FIR on the basis of discreet enquiries.

They directed the Director General of Police to issue suitable instructions asking all his subordinates to ensure that the investigating officers across the State attended the trial courts promptly and that responsible officers were deputed to the High Courts too during the hearing of criminal appeals challenging the convictions ordered by the trial courts in criminal cases.

The judges recorded the submission of Tirunelveli Superintendent of Police S. Vijayendra Bidari that he never visited the lower court during the trial of the present case . They also recorded the SP’s submission that he went through the documents and found out infirmities in the prosecution case but did not choose to obtain legal opinion for reopening it.

The SP, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Tirunelvei Range) Sumit Sharan and other officials were present in court during the hearing .

The judges told the officers that they had disposed of 120 criminal appeals in the last three months and 100 of them had ended up in acquittal of the accused solely due to the poor investigation . They asked the State Public Prosecutor to take up the matter with the State Government and conduct training programmes for the policemen .