In what is seen as a ray of hope to find justice into the mysterious death of sub-inspector Pearlystone Joshua Marbaniang eight years ago, the Supreme Court has asked the Meghalaya High Court to relook into the case and consider whether the investigation into his death is to be handed over to another agency and that the same should be decided by the High Court within three months.
The Supreme Court bench of Justice M R Shah and Justice C T Ravikumar passed the order on May 8 on an appeal by Marbaniang’s mother Dorothy Marbaniang.
The top court also set aside the judgment and order passed by the Meghalaya High Court on March 22, 2016 in WP(C) No. 169/2015 which rejected the plea by Dorothy Marbaniang seeking CBI enquiry into the death of her son.
“We set aside the impugned judgment and order(s) passed by the High Court and remit the matter back to the High Court to decide and dispose of the writ petition afresh in accordance with law and on its own merits,” the Supreme Court said.
Further, the apex court said the High Court may also consider whether the investigation into Marbaniang’s un-natural death is to be handed over to another agency or not and filing of the charge sheet for the offence under Section 306 IPC shall not come in the way of the High Court in passing appropriate order of further investigation and/or the investigation on the un-natural death by another agency.
“We request the High Court to decide and dispose of the writ petition on merits at the earliest and preferably within a period of three months from the date of receipt of present order,” the Supreme Court said.
It may be noted that Dorothy Marbaniang in her plea before the Supreme Court has alleged that there was no proper investigation carried out on the un-natural death of her son, who was the Officer-in-Charge of Patharkhmah, Police Outpost in Ri-Bhoi district and the investigation was on the wrong track and was converted into suicide.
However, the Supreme Court having gone through its decision in the case of Sushila Devi, is of the opinion that the High Court while disposing of the writ petition filed by Dorothy has misapplied and/or misconstrued the decision of the top court in the case of Sushila Devi.
“In the case of Sushila Devi (supra), this court considered the fact that when the investigation ordered by CBI was completed and to that this court observed that further monitoring by this court is not warranted,” the Supreme Court said.
According to the Supreme Court, in the present case regarding the plea by Dorothy, it was not a case of further monitoring by the court but it was a case where the allegations were that the investigation was not carried out on the un-natural death of her son and the prayer was to hand over the investigation to CBI or another agency.
“It is also required to be noted that even the charge sheet which was filed for the offence under Section 306 (IPC) and nothing has been discussed by the High Court on the allegations of un-natural death and/or investigation carried out from the angle of un-natural death, as alleged by the appellant. All these aspects were required to be considered by the High court in detail. Even, the High Court also could have considered the fact that even after the charge sheet and ever after framing of the charge, the further investigation under Section 173(8) is permissible and constitutional court is not precluded from ordering further investigation by another agency even in a case where charge sheet is filed and/or even the charge is framed,” the Supreme Court said.
It may be recalled that sub-inspector Pearlystone Joshua Marbaniang was the officer in charge of Patharkhmah police outpost. According to media reports, on January 23, 2015 night he reportedly detained 32 illegal coal trucks plying on the Mairang-Azara-Patharkhmah road which was under his watch.
Media reports at that time said that he was under tremendous pressure to release those trucks by the people with interests in the illegal coal trade. The next day, on January 24, 2015, he was found dead in his residential quarter. Police claimed that he committed suicide by shooting himself on the head with his service revolver.
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