Central Bureau of Investigation, CBI, Ghaziabad- Shivank Singh, Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), while rejecting the closure report of the CBI, accepted the protest petition and directed for further investigation in Pravin Chanam murder case. The Court while criticising the shoddy investigation stated,

“…it may be noted that there are many lapses on the part of UP Police which has hauled this case with open ends. This court is in deep pain to note that due to such lapses, the parents and family of the deceased did not even get a chance to see the dead body of the deceased or to perform the last rites of their late son”.

In the pertinent matter, it was alleged in the FIR that Pravish Chanam (deceased) went missing from a concert of an international music band ‘Chain Smokers’, Greater Noida on 08-09-2017, for which a missing complaint was lodged on 09-09-2017. The dead body of the deceased was found and cremated on 13-09-17. It was further alleged that ‘despite desperate pursuance’, the family came to know about the death only after the cremation of his body. The family thus claimed negligence on the part of the police/local authorities and suspected criminal intent with the possibility of organ trafficking, after the post mortem report mentioned a number of injuries. Moreover, it was further submitted that the brother only got to know about the deceased on 14-07-2017, whereas the FIR was lodged on 09-09-2017 itself. Also, it was observed that there was a ‘failure in transmission of information’ regarding the missing report of the deceased from the Police Station to the control room, which could have disseminated the information further.

Interestingly, Dr. G. Khan, Joint Director, FSL, Lucknow had also stated that the post mortem report was not up to the mark, which got later corroborated from the Forensic department of AIIMS, New Delhi.

The CBI mentioned in the closure report that since the death appeared as an accident without any criminal intent, further ruling out the possibility of criminal conspiracy, deserves a closure report to be filed. Subsequently, a protest petition was filed by the family.

The Court took note of several facts, which appeared contrary to each other and while giving due weightage to the most natural witnesses, stated,

“if the most natural witnesses, infront of whom the deceased were on his death bed and was taken to hospital by police have stated there was only one bandage on right leg and one one right arm. It is hard to believe that the injuries on face and forehead, and other injury of around 47 cms on left thigh of the deceased mentioned in post mortem report were not visible to them. Investigation agencies have failed to put forth this point that as to when and how those injuries were made when all of such independent and natural witnesses have stated about the injuries which do not fall in line with the injuries mentioned in Post Mortem Report”.

The Court after considering the statements of the witnesses, evidences, CCTV footages, Post Mortem Report, raised questions on the unavailability of crucial witnesses in the investigation, who could have played a pivotal role. And found it hard to believe that the friends who accompanied the deceased to the concert, who even submitted that they waited for the deceased at the venue, did not meet the Doctor with the ambulance at the same venue.

Therefore, while lambasting the UP Police, the Court exclaimed,

“Keeping in view the abovesaid observations, it can be said that there is something more than what is being portrayed through sketched illustrations. The intention to outwit and hoodwink the court with the almost deluded closure report thus become latently apparent. Thus, in considered view of this court, further investigation is required to be done. Accordingly, the protest petition is allowed, closure report filed by CBI in RC 5 (S)/2019/CBI/SCB/ Lucknow is hereby rejected. CBI is directed to further investigate the case. And said, The shoddy investigation done by UP Police in the present case with sinister potential with regard to human life deserves strong disapproval by this court. Such manner shown by the police strikes a blow at rule of law. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer had very aptly said, ‘Who will police the Police?’”.

[Phanjoubam Linthoingambi v. C.B.I., RC 5 (S)/2019/CBI/SCB/ Lucknow, decided on 13-10-2021]

Agatha Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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