‘Could be anyone’s daughter’: Allahabad high court’s grim message to UP cops

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The Allahabad high court on Wednesday expressed its displeasure at the Uttar Pradesh police’s handling of the 2019 death of a 16-year-old girl in Mainpuri, telling the police brass present in the court that the girl came from a poor family but the “administration must not forget it could be anyone’s daughter”.

The teenager was found hanging in her school on September 16, 2019. Her family alleged that she was sexually assaulted and killed. The case, initially handled by the Mainpuri police, was later handed over to a special investigation team (SIT). Public interest litigation filed in the high court, however, accused the police of trying to protect the accused.

At a hearing on Tuesday, the bench comprising acting chief justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and justice AK Ojha ordered Uttar Pradesh police chief Mukul Goel to be present in the court. The judges, who took up the case on Wednesday, scheduled another hearing on Thursday morning and ordered the UP director general of police (DGP) to go through the records of the case and apprise the bench of the matter.

“We take such matters very seriously. Don’t think that she was a poor man’s daughter, she was the nation’s daughter. The investigation was transferred from the police to SIT but SIT also did nothing to ensure fair investigation that’s why the petitioner had to approach this court,” the bench said.

The judges pointed out that the police did not interrogate the accused for almost three months after lodging the First Information Report (FIR). Turning to the UP DGP, the court asked, “In the normal course, how do police investigate such cases?”

“We hope that good sense prevails and appropriate action is taken against the erring officers who neither interrogated the matter properly nor collected the medical evidence and sent it to the forensic lab within time,” the bench added.

“Despite the seriousness shown by the court to the case and the manner of the investigation coupled with direction against the defaulting police officer, no follow-up action has been taken rather the matter is not being briefed to the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh to know the sensitivity of the case,” the bench said.

“In view of the above, we are left with no option but to keep this matter tomorrow, i.e. 16.09.2021 at 10am as the first case when Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh and members of SIT would remain present in the court to clarify about the action of the police authorities in conducting the investigation and further as to why the disciplinary action against the then superintendent of police, Mainpuri could not be completed before his retirement almost six months back, as stated,” the bench added while fixing the next date.

On Tuesday, the bench, after going through the case record, underlined that the police interrogated the accused almost after three months of registration of the FIR.

“The investigating officer present in court could not explain the delay in interrogating the accused in a case where a girl, aged about 16 years, was found hanging in her school and the mother had made allegations of harassment, beating and assault of the girl child,” the bench added. The court said it seemed the SIT team investigating the case was not acting independently and sought the presence of the police chief in the court.

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