GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court transferred the investigation of a kidnapping case that happened 7 years ago, involving the brother of a then member of the NC Hills Autonomous Council, to the CBI on the ground that the investigation by the Assam Police and a SIT failed to yield any result. The SIT was especially constituted to carry out a probe into the case.
The direction to that effect was given by a single-judge bench of Justice Suman Shyam.
Justice Shyam ruled on the basis of the materials on record that even the formation of the SIT for the purpose of carrying out an investigation in connection with the case has failed to yield any result.
From the affidavit submitted by the Superintendent of Police, Dima Hasao District, as well as from the submission of the government advocate, Assam, the bench concluded that the likelihood of any further progress in the investigation conducted by the SIT appeared to be’minimal’.
It was concluded that the only way forward in this case appeared to be “to handover the investigation to a specialised agency such as the CBI.”
It should be mentioned here that the petition (WP(C)/259/2022) was filed by the wife of Jibon Kemprai, who was allegedly kidnapped by unidentified miscreants on January 27, 2016 from Diyungmukh in Dima Hasao District of Assam. It has been alleged in the FIR registered under Sections 365, 506, and 34 of the IPC that the victim’s elder brother, Mohendra Kemprai, who was the then member of the NC Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC), had received threats from unknown persons, asking him to abstain from participating in the emergent meeting of the NCHAC, held on January 29, 2016, or else he would face dire consequences.
It was also alleged that the kidnapping was done to prevent Mohendra Kemprai from attending the emergent meeting, wherein a ‘no confidence motion’ brought against the executives in power in the autonomous council was to be discussed. Since then, Jibon Kemprai remains missing, and the police and SIT have been unable to trace his whereabouts till now.
The Assam Police had initially conducted an investigation regarding the case (No. 03/2016) at Diyungmukh PS but could not make any headway. The wife of the missing Jibon Kemprai then approached the Gauhati High Court by filing the instant writ petition, seeking a direction from the court to handover the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In the meantime, a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the Superintendent of Dima Hasao District took over the investigation. From a report submitted before the court, it transpired that other than making a few arrests and recording the statements of a few witnesses, the SIT also could not make much headway nor could it conclude the investigation. As a result, no charge sheet could be filed to date.
The counsel for the writ petitioner argued that this is a clear case of ‘political assassination’ and it was apparent from the fact that, after the release of the six arrested persons, their wives had been appointed in different departments of the Council and the main suspect was roaming freely without any effort from the police to nab him.
It was also submitted by the petitioner’s counsel that even the wives of the three main suspects have been given jobs, and the person who made the phone call to Mohendra Kemprai just before the kidnapping of his brother Jibon Kemprai has neither been arrested nor interrogated till date. As such, it was deemed a fit case where the investigation should be handed over to the CBI.
In light of the facts, the court then turned to a Supreme Court observation that the HC had the authority to hand over a case to a specialized agency, even without the consent of the state government.
In the present case, the Court came to the conclusion that “the probability of a political motive behind the incident cannot be ruled out. Therefore, considering the ground realities prevailing in the Dima Hasao District of Assam and having regard to the nature of the investigation so far conducted in this case, this Court is left with no manner of doubt that the petitioner would not get justice unless the investigation in the connected case is handed over to a specialised agency such as the CBI.”
Therefore, the HC directed the Assam government, the Assam DGP, and SP Dima Hasao “to initiate all steps to handover the investigation in connection with Diyungmukh PS case No. 03/2016 to the CBI by following the due process of law. Once the records are handed over to the CBI, an investigation should be carried out by the CBI as expeditiously as possible, so as to bring the process to its logical end.