The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Kerala Police to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into allegations of wife-swapping lodged by the estranged wife of a naval officer.
The apex court, which ruled out CBI investigation into the FIR alleging that besides the husband of the woman, four other Navy officers and a spouse of one of them were involved in wife-swapping in the force, directed the Kerala DGP to set up the SIT headed by a police officer not below the rank of a DIG and conclude the probe in the 2013 FIR "preferably" within three months.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur, justice R Banumathi and justice U U Lalit, while rejecting the plea for CBI probe, said, "It is well settled that the extraordinary power of the constitutional courts in directing CBI to conduct investigation in a case must be exercised rarely in exceptional circumstances, especially, when there is lack of confidence in the investigating agency or in the national interest and for doing complete justice in the matter."
Justice Banumathi, penning the verdict, said, "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case in hand, in the light of ...Principles, we are of the view that the case in hand does not entail a direction for transferring the investigation from the state police/special team of state police officers to CBI. The facts and circumstances in which the offence is alleged to have been committed can be better investigated into by state police."
It also rejected the submission of the estranged wife of the navy officer that the cases, filed by the accused, including other naval officers, in the Kerala High Court seeking quashing of the FIR, be transferred to the Delhi High Court.
The apex court also said that it transfers a case from one state to another only if there is a "reasonable apprehension on the part of a party to a case that justice will not be done".
"Mere apprehension that the accused are influential may not be sufficient to transfer the case. Since a special team of state police officers is constituted for further investigation, we are not inclined to order the transfer of the criminal miscellaneous petitions from the High Court of Kerala to the High Court of Delhi," it said.
The case came to light in April 2013, when a naval officer's wife alleged that her husband and other officers of the Southern Naval Command in Kochi had allegedly tortured her and forced her to participate in 'wife swapping' parties.
In September that year, the apex court agreed to hear the woman's plea seeking a CBI inquiry against the accused.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam had said that it would hear the plea of the woman along with her other petition on restraining the Kerala High Court from giving any relief to the accused in the case.