Sex Trafficking Case: Calcutta HC Wants Police Officer Punished For ‘shoddy probe’

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the Bengal DGP to start the disciplinary proceedings against the investigating officer in sex trafficking case.

The shady probe conduction robbed the survivor of her “Constitutional rights to a fair investigation” and therefore forced the court to acquit the main accused.

The court sets out that the disciplinary proceedings must be completed in 4 months and must be done even if the policeman concerned has now retired.

The survivor on February 12th, 2008 told her parents that she was stepping out of her home in Khardah, North 24 Parganas, less than 20km from Kolkata, to attend Saraswati Puja in her college. But she did not return. She was last seen at the Belghoria station. Her parents lodged a complaint at the Khardah PS the next day. In May that year, the girl, who was taken to a Delhi brothel, managed to call a neighbour, prompting her father to go there and bring her back home and report it to the police.

In 2018, despite the gaps in the probe, the trial court has given the accused 7 years in prison for kidnapping. The accused challenged this in the HC.
The State lawyer Faria Hossain also took exception to the faulty probe. She argued that the victim “should not be made to suffer” due to the investigating officer’s lapses.

Lawyer Hossain said that it was not the girl’s fault that it was her father – and not the police – who recovered her. She also argued that the survivor’s testimony could not be disbelieved just because the key witnesses had not been questioned.

Justice Siddhartha Roy Chowdhury while hearing the case stated that it went without saying that “suspicion, howsoever strong, can’t circumvent the obligation of the prosecution to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, in this case, the investigating officer, the prosecutor and the learned trial judge, all have failed to play their respective role properly.”

He further stated that the judges were trained “not to get swayed by emotion” and “to adjudicate without taking sides”. But also expressed helplessness in convicting the accused, saying, “we are supposed to adjudicate on the basis of parameters, which are well defined.”

In this case, he also stated, there was “no cogent evidence to saddle the accused person with criminal liability, and all credit goes to the investigating officer, who toyed with the constitutional right of the victim to have a fair investigation. Fair investigation & fair trial are considered to be right to life and in this case, both rights were denied to the victim.”

The High Court noticed that there were too many gaps in the probe. Justice Row Chowdhury stated while ordering disciplinary proceedings that “There is every reason to hold that it was done with the motive to ensure safe passage for the accused person.”

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About the Author: Meera Verma