Accused can't be let off under political pressure: SC

In this case the police had initially named 19 persons as accused in the murder of Bhairathi Das in Orissa's Jajpur district on March 28, 2007 allegedly by Kedar Narayan Parida and 18 others.

However, on the intervention of the local MLA Parameswar Sethi, the State Director General of Police and the Inspector General of Police Central Zone, dropped 12 of the accused from the case.

The apex court asserted that courts can intervene to restore justice when the action of the authorities is malafide in nature.

"Such a direction given after the intervention of Parameswar Sethi, who has gone to the extent of providing an alibi for two of the accused, Jyoti Parida and Shakti Parida, claiming that they were present in his house when the incident had occurred not only exudes an unpleasant flavour, but raises doubts about the bonafides of the police authorities at the highest level," the apex court observed.

The apex court passed the observation while dismissing the appeal of Kedarnath Parida and other accused who challenged a direction of the Orissa High Court to the DGP to include in the investigation and chargesheet the names of all the 19 accused as originally named by the Additional SP Jajpur.

The accused had claimed that courts have no powers to interfere in the investigation process as it was the prerogative of the investigating agency.

Rejecting the arguments, the apex court said courts can intervene in criminal investigations when the investigating agency acts with malafide at the instance of influential persons, like politicians, to shield the accused.

"When any illegality and/or malafide action on the part of the investigating authorities, either on its own or at the behest of an interested party, is brought to the notice of the high courts, they in exercise of their inherent and plenary powers are entitled to intervene to set right the illegality and or malafide," a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph observed.

The decision to drop the names of 12 of the accused was taken at the direction of the State DGP and the IG, Central, despite the fact that the Additional SP Jajpur, had in his original report found prima facie evidence against all the 19 accused.

The apex court said though courts should not interfere in investigations, in exceptional circumstances it can intervene to do justice to the parties.

"As we have observed in other cases, the courts -- in particular the high courts -- are the guardians of the life and liberty of the citizens and if there is any flavour of deliberate misuse of the authority, the high court or this court may certainly step in to correct such injustice or failure of justice," the bench said, dismissing the accused's appeal.

The DGP at the instance of the MLA had directed the Additional SP to prepare a "second test (investigation) report." In the said "second test report" the Additional SP dropped the names of 12 of the accused as the MLA had claimed that they were falsely implicated.
Aggrieved Kabita Das, widow of the deceased wrote to the Orissa High Court which, treating it as a writ petition, directed the State to arrest all the 19 accused as per the original supervisory report submitted by the Additional SP Jajpur and proceed with the investigations.

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