21 yrs later, Manipur HC orders CBI probe into CRPF Constable’s suspicious death at Battalion camp
21 yrs later, Manipur HC orders CBI probe into CRPF Constable's suspicious death at Battalion camp

Imphal (Agency): The Manipur High Court has directed a CBI investigation into the mysterious death of Constable Nishan Singh, a member of the 26th Battalion, CRPF. Nishan passed away on November 19, 2002 at the camp of the Battalion at Heavy Fuel Power Project, Leimakhong, Senapati District, Manipur.

A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice M.V. Muralidaran and Justice A. Guneshwar Sharma observed, “The case on hand is very pathetic, as the allegation is against the higher officials of the disciplined force who are alleged to have caused death to a newly joined Constable, aged about 21 years at the time of occurrence. The loss of a 21 year old boy who joined the CRPF with a huge dream cannot be tolerated by the mother. Bearing in mind the position of law, as discussed above and, in the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion that this is a fit case to issue direction to conduct CBI investigation into the alleged crime”.

The case was brought before the court by the mother of the deceased, alleging foul play by higher officials within the CRPF. She contended that her son’s death was not a suicide, as claimed by the authorities, but a result of a pre-planned conspiracy involving high-ranking CRPF officers. After considering the matter the single bench had dismissed her plea.

Assailing the dismissal before the division bench in appeal the appellant mother through her counsel argued that the initial investigation by the state police was inadequate and that the subsequent inquiry by CRPF officials seemed biased. She also contended that vital witnesses were not examined, and there was a significant lack of transparency in the investigation process.

According to the appellant, an inquiry was conducted by the National Human Rights Council, Punjab and report dated 6.3.2003 was filed with a request that the investigation be done by the CBI. The copies of the said report were submitted to various authorities, including the DG, CRPF but nothing had happened, she argued.

The Division Bench after a comprehensive review of the case, observed serious discrepancies in the investigations conducted so far and noted the need for an unbiased inquiry into the suspicious circumstances surrounding Nishan Singh’s death.

Recognizing the enduring struggle of an aggrieved mother, who lost her son at the tender age of 21 and her relentless pursuit for truth since 2003 despite the state’s lacklustre investigations and the suspicious collaboration among involved officials the bench observed,

“In an appropriate case when the Court feels that the investigation by the police authorities is not in a proper direction and in order to do complete justice in the case and if high police officials are involved in the alleged crime, the Court may be justified in such circumstances to hand over the investigation to an independent agency like CBI”.

Recognising the obligation of the judiciary to protect fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution the bench said that the given facts and circumstances of the case disclose a prima facie case calling for fresh investigation by CBI as the powers and jurisdiction of CBI for investigation are confined to any offence or classes of offences notified by the Central Government.

“There are many instances like the instant case in which the CBI has been directed by the Apex Court and this Court to investigate into various cases. The Court, being the bulwark of civil liberties of the citizens, has not only the power and jurisdiction but also an obligation to protect the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III in general and under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”, it added.

Directing the Joint Director of CBI, Manipur, to investigate the case promptly and thoroughly, taking possession of all relevant records and documents the court further ordered that the investigation be completed within a period of three months. (Courtesy: Live Law)