Fresh probe ordered into Mainpuri minor rape case

File photo for representation  

Two years after a 16-year-old girl, a Class 11 student of a Centre-run school in Mainpuri, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her hostel, a fresh investigation was launched into her death after the original inquiry conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was found to have suffered from “serious lapses”, leading to the suspension of three senior police officers and pending action against another.

The girl’s family had alleged that she was sexually assaulted before being assaulted and murdered as she knew “secret things” about the school, and that the police were trying to protect the accused in the case — the principal of the school, the hostel warden, and another person. The police had prima facie called it a case of suicide.

The new probe would be conducted under the supervision of the Allahabad High Court, which also directed the police to provide adequate security to the family of the girl as well as the petitioner in the case.

The court also said: “It is further directed that in the investigation, all scientific methods should be applied because defective investigation or investigation without collection of proper evidence results in acquittal and therefore only the conviction rate is only 6-7%.”

The accused in the case had been booked for murder, attempt to rape and under Sections 7, 8 and 18 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on the complaint of the girl’s father.

The Allahabad High Court on September 16, after summoning the Director General of Police (DGP)-Uttar Pradesh in person, noted that the top cop of the State Mukul Goel had realised that there were “serious lapses in the investigation of the case and thereby three officers have been placed under suspension”. Additionally, an inquiry against the then Superintendent of Police (SP)-Mainpuri would be completed at the earliest, assured the DGP.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice Anil Kumar Ojha said a new SIT had been constituted to hold a fresh investigation because the investigation conducted till date “cannot be trusted”.

“It would be after taking note of the allegations in the FIR and the lapses committed by the earlier investigating team. They would collect all the evidence relevant to the case. The investigation would be under the supervision of this Court,” the Bench said.

Three officers — the Investigating Officer (IO) Pahup Singh, Additional Superintendent of Police Om Prakash and Deputy Superintendent of Police Priyank Jain — were suspended for lapses and negligence in the investigation of the case.

The U.P. DGP submitted before the court that action had been taken against “those police officers who defaulted in conducting the investigation in a fair and proper manner”.

In the vaginal slide taken from the victim, human semen was found apart from sperm on the underwear of the deceased girl, the court said, quoting the suspension order of the IO.

Despite receipt of the report from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Agra, the IO did not send for a DNA test within 45 days of the samples being collected from the persons named in the FIR or those who were suspected. After this period, the subsequent DNA remains of no use, said the court. The victim’s autopsy report had shown that her hymen was torn and clotted blood was present in the vagina, indicating prima facie that she was raped, but the IO did not take such findings seriously and did not send her school uniform for forensic investigation, the U.P. DGP informed the court. The IO was also penalised for recording the statement of the accused principal of the school, Sushma Sagar, only after a period of three months from the time the FIR was lodged on September 17, 2019.

Amrendra Nath Singh, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, told court that it was not only a case of a serious lapse of investigation but one where the efforts of the investigating team were to benefit to the accused. Referring to the FIR, Mr. Singh said that the incident was said to have taken place at around 5.30-6 a.m. on September 16, 2019 but the parents were not informed about it by the school principal. Rather, a relative of the family, who was present at the hospital for his wife’s treatment informed them, Mr. Singh said.

The High Court directed the police administration to not only monitor the investigation but also guide the IOs to apply “scientific methods” for investigation.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had in December 2019, while ordering a SIT probe, also instructed officials to send a reminder to the Centre recommending that the case be taken by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The State government recommended a CBI probe on September 27, 2019.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 2:47:47 AM |

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