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Pradyumn murder case: Bus conductor may sue Police & School but it's not only instance to botched-up investigations

By FnF Crime Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 10, Nov 2017, 13:13 pm IST | UPDATED: 12, Nov 2017, 14:35 pm IST

Pradyumn murder case: Bus conductor may sue Police & School but it's not only instance to botched-up investigations New Delhi: The bus conductor, who was arrested on charges of murder and sexual assault of eight-year-old Pradyumn Thakur at Gurgaon’s Ryan International School, said on Friday he will file a case against the Haryana police and school’s management for torturing and defaming him.

Mohit Verma, Rohtak-based counsel for Ashok Kumar, said his client was made a scapegoat in the case to protect the real culprit.

His comments came a day after a Class 11 student of the same school was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly murdering the second grader in a sensational twist to the case that shook the country and raised questions over students’ safety inside schools.

Thakur was found with his throat slit outside a school toilet on September 8.

“We are waiting for the CBI to file its closure report after which we will file cases against the police and school management for large-scale defamation of Ashok,” Verma said.

The Rohtak-based lawyer said Kumar was drugged and tortured by the police to confess to a crime he never committed in front of the media.

“The police clearly botched up the probe. The CBI did not find any motive he could have had in murdering Pradyumn, while they established the motive of the arrested Class 11 boy behind the crime,” he said.

Verma said the central agency reached this conclusion after looking at a footage from the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera that was rejected by Haryana Police calling it unclear.

“The police had planted everything. They framed an innocent man. Who pressurised the police to do [that] is a matter of investigation, but whatever happened to Ashok amounts to torture,” he added.

The CBI said it has not found evidence of murder against Kumar but he has not been exonerated yet. The agency also did not find any evidence of sexual assault, a CBI spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The bar council of Sohna in Gurgaon jointly passed a resolution refusing to fight Kumar’s case after he was initially accused of Thakur’s murder after which his family hired Verma.

The 16-year-old student detained by the CBI in connection with Thakur’s murder confessed to his crime in front of his father and an independent witness, the agency has told a juvenile court.

The court has sent the juvenile to three-day CBI custody.

In a sensational twist to the Pradyuman Thakur murder case in Gurugram, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested a Class Xth student of the Ryan International School for the crime. Pradyuman, a class 2nd  student of Ryan was found dead with his throat slit in the bathroom of the school on September 8. The Gurgaon police had arrested the school bus conductor for the murder. But now the CBI has claimed that the bus conductor had no role in the crime.

Like many other cases in the past, Ryan school murder probe has also exposed loopholes in police investigation. As it has often been seen, wide media coverage and public outcry put investigating agencies under extra pressure. In many cases, failure in proper preliminary investigation, or incomplete/delayed collection of forensic evidence lead to botched up investigations that ultimately make it more difficult for the victim to get justice.

Here we look at some of the famous botched-up investigations by investigation agencies:

Pradhyuman Thakur murder case, Gurugram (September 8, 2017)

Seven-year-old Pradhyuman’s body was found in the washroom of a Ryan International School branch in Gurugram. The child was found with his throat slit. The child had been dropped outside his school in the morning just before start of school hours and in a matter of 15 minutes, he was found to be lying in a pool of blood, dead.

The murder triggered massive outrage among parents, citizens and drew extensive media coverage. The police arrested a bus conducted as the murder accused even before the passage of a whole day. The Gurugram Police Commissioner boasted that the case will be cracked in 1-2 days. The arrested bus conductor first confessed to committing the murder then retracted the statement, saying the police coerced it out of him. The investigation was handed over to the CBI which after several weeks detained a school student as accused.

Himachal Pradesh’s Kotkahi rape and murder case (July 2017)

The naked body of a 16-year-old girl class 10 student was found in a forested area near Hilaila village in Shimla district on July 6, 2017. The girl had gone missing two days ago. Six people were arrested by the local police but one of them, a labourer from Nepal, was allegedly killed by a co-accused inside the jail. Two FIRs were registered – one of a rape and murder of the girl and another about custodial death of the Nepalese national Suraj, named as an accused in the case, on July 19. The investigation was handed over to the CBI by the Himachal Pradesh High Court after doubts that the investigation was botched up.

Aarushi Talwar murder case (May15-16, 2008)

In the case of the mysterious double-murder of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj that occurred on the intervening night of May 15-16, 2008, Noida Police arrested Aarushi’s father Dr Rajesh Talwar as the prime accused one week after the murder. Later, when the investigation was handed over to the CBI, it took a different turn. CBI arrested three servants Raj Kumar, Vijay Mondol and Krishna. The case remained in headlines for alleged coverups. Allegations were made that the crime scene was contaminated, trampled upon, dressed up. It is a fact that the crime scene was not secured by either the family or the police which possibly destroyed crucial forensic evidence. After serving years in jail convicted of murdering their daughters, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar walked out of prison recently, acquitted by the Allahabad High Court. Who killed Aarushi? It is still a mystery.

Sheena Bora murder case (April-May 2012)

The high-profile case involving the murder of Sheena, daughter of Indrani Mukerjea–wife of media mogul Peter Mukerjea, is another such case that grabbed the headlines. Indrani was alleged to have murdered Sheena with the help of Sanjeev Khanna, her ex-husband and Rai – Peter’s driver.

Sheena resigned from her office and went on leave on absence on April 24, 2012. On May 23, 2012, a decomposed body was recovered in Pen, Raigad district. It was in late August 2015 that Maharashtra Police arrested Indrani. Some reports suggested that Sheena was strangled while others said she was poisoned. But at the least, a procedural botch-up was pointed out. According to a report by The Indian Express, Raigad Police had misplaced key packets of material DNA evidence in the probe.

Call data records submitted by the CBI were with a rider from the telecom company that they could be erroneous. The role of Raigad police also came under scrutiny later. The CBI probed whether there was professional misconduct or deliberate attempt by the police officers to shield the accused by not registering an FIR. CBI said it had enough evidence against IPS Officer D Shinde to prove he received a call on his official number from a subordinate and gave directions to file an Accidental Death Register and not an FIR.

Assassination of Haren Pandya, former home minister of Gujarat (March 26, 2003)

Investigation into the murder of BJP leader Haren Pandya in Gujarat, 2003 resulted in 12 people being convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. They spent eight years in jail. But, the Gujarat High Court acquitted all in 2011. Interestingly, the investigation was headed by YC Modi who was recently appointed chief of the NIA.

The bench of Justice DH Waghela and Justice JC Upadhyaya said in their judgment: “What clearly stands out from the record of the present case is that the investigation in the case of murder of Shri Haren Pandya has all throughout been botched up and blinkered and has left a lot to be desired. The investigating officers concerned ought to be held accountable for their ineptitude resulting into injustice, huge harassment of many persons concerned and enormous waste of public resources and public time of the courts.”

The court said that botch up was to such an extent that the confessional statements couldn’t be relied upon. “The investigation clearly appears to have been so botched up and misdirected that the confessional statements recorded during police remand, before any police officer, could not be safely relied for convicting any of the appellants,” the court said.

Noida gangrape case, 2009

A Delhi court acquitted nine persons accused in gangrape of a university student in Noida in 2009. The court observed that it appeared to be a case of false implication by the investigation officer and not the victim.

Miffed by the botch-up by the IO Inspector Anil Samaniya, the judge ordered action against him “due to negligent, casual and unprofessional investigation by the IO.” The judge said that due to the botched-up investigation, the actual rapists could not be identified or arrested or subjected to administration of justice.

A total 11 accused were named in the investigation. One died during trial and another was a juvenile so he wasn’t produced before the trial court. The observations of the court said that the untied threads of investigation made the conviction of the nine men impossible.

Sukadeb Nayak, Mayurbhanj, wrongly jailed for murder (2012)

Sukadeb Nayak who lived in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district was charged for the murder of his wife Lily and spent four months in jail. Later, Nayak’s wife was found alive. The investigators said they were convinced that Nayak had murdered his wife. She was traced in Kolkata by family members.

According to police records, Sukadeb filed a complaint with the police that his wife had gone missing. However, police officials investigating the matter turned the matter into a murder case. He then charged Sukadeb and Lily’s brother Sudam as murderers. The police had recovered a woman’s body from a village well while the investigation was ongoing. It claimed that it was the body of Lily. A DNA test later proved the claim to be false. Both Sukadeb and Sudam remained in prison for four months and later let out on bail. The police filed a chargesheet against the accused. However, just before the commencement of the trial, Lily appeared in court.