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Judge Warns Police To Comply With Law In 2020 Communal Riots Investigation

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing a case registered at Gokalpuri police station against 10 accused which was at the stage of submission of evidence by the prosecution. 

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 A Delhi court hearing a case of the 2020 communal riots has issued a "warning" to two city police officials and asked them to comply with the law for conducting further investigation in cases where the charge sheet has already been filed, saying it was not their "absolute right" under Section 173(8) of CrPC.

Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing a case registered at Gokalpuri police station against 10 accused which was at the stage of submission of evidence by the prosecution. 

“A warning is recorded for the Station House Officer (SHO) and Investigating Officer (IO) that they must follow the law under Section 173(8) of CrPC before indulging into any further investigation after filing the charge sheet before the court, in a case. Copy of this order be sent to SHO for compliance,” the court said. 

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Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with further investigation in a case. 

The court made the observation while deciding the acceptability of the second supplementary charge sheet in the case filed by Delhi Police on September 25.

“On perusal of the first charge sheet in this case, I find that it was mentioned that two complaints as made by Poonam Johar and Rinku were clubbed for investigation in this case on March 30, 2020 on the grounds of place of occurrence of both the incidents being nearby. But at the same time, it was reported that complainant Rinku was not found despite making investigations from neighbours and nearby places,” ASJ Pramachala said in an order passed on Monday. 

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This means the Investigating Officer (IO) was unable to find any evidence regarding the alleged incident involving Rinku, and the complaint should have been separated from the present case, the court said. 

The complaint was clubbed with the present case on the basis of “unfounded assumptions” about the role of the present accused in the alleged incident involving Rinku, the court said. 

It said in the second supplementary charge sheet, Rinku's recorded statement dated September 12 this year about a mob looting him and then setting ablaze his e-rickshaw during the riots in 2020, was filed. But he did not identify any culprits, the court said.  

So, there were no grounds to raise the “presumption” that the accused persons in the present case were also behind the incident of arson and looting involving Rinku, the court said.  

“In fact, I find that in the name of investigating this complaint, a half-hearted attempt has been made only to show the completion of the investigation. This complaint is, therefore, not to be entertained in the present case,” the judge said.  

In the present case, he said, charges were framed on December 3, 2021 and thereafter 12 prosecution witnesses have already been examined. 

“It is beyond understanding that for what purpose the complaint of Rinku was shown to be completely investigated through this supplementary charge sheet. Because the IO did not have any material to say that the accused persons who are facing trial in this case had caused this additional incident,” the judge said 

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He said the power of an investigating agency to conduct further investigation under section 173 (8) CrPC was not an “absolute right,” especially after the trial had begun. 

“Once a trial has begun, it has to be shown that the requisite action (for conducting further investigation) is necessary in view of some past left-over job. On the basis of such reasons, the investigating agency is duty-bound to seek permission from the court, to further investigate on those lines,” the judge said. 

“The complaint of Rinku cannot be clubbed in this case. Hence, the SHO is directed to take it back and register a separate case thereupon,” the judge added. 

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He also observed that the police had filed the charge sheet in the case in “haste" without conducting a complete investigation.

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