KOCHI: Upholding the Single Bench order to pay `2.5 lakh as compensation to a murder case victim’s family, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday observed that if an investigating agency is unable to complete the probe within a time frame, it is the obligation of the superior police authorities to ensure that the investigation is entrusted to a better agency.
The court observed that the victim or their parents, relatives or any other person in public interest should not be forced to approach a constitutional court.
Instead, the state, through the police department, has to chalk out appropriate measures to entrust such probe to specialised agencies to ensure that a proper investigation is conducted.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique passed the order while disposing an appeal filed by the state government challenging the order of Single Judge awarding a compensation of `2.5 lakh to the parents from Kasargod, whose son was allegedly murdered for marrying a Muslim girl.
The Single Judge had passed the order on a petition filed by 79-year-old M Gopalan and his wife seeking compensation on account of negligence on the part of the state police in conducting the probe.
According to them, their son fell in love with a Muslim girl, who he eloped with and married.
The incident had worsened the already volatile communal situation at the area. Ultimately on September 18, 2001, the petitioners’ son, Balachandran, was allegedly murdered by the in-laws.
Counsel for the parents of the victim Kaleeswaram Raj submitted that the gross delay on the part of the police in conducting probe had resulted in a situation where the parents right under Article 21 of the Constitution has been violated for not protecting the life of their son and for not conducting proper investigation.
Appearing for the state, Special Government Pleader Girija Gopal submitted that there was no reason for the Single Judge to have concluded that the probe was not properly conducted. However, the Bench refused to accept the contention by the state.
The parents submitted that even if a claim for compensation is not justifiable on the ground of delay as contended by the state, compensation can still be paid by invoking the ‘Victim Scheme Compensation’ scheme as envisaged under Section 357 of Code of Criminal Procedures.
The Bench observed that a reward of compensation can be justified in the event of the Scheme. “It is relevant to note that the plight of the parents of a murdered son is imaginable. As rightly pointed out by the Single Judge, they were running from pillar to post to see that the accused are apprehended and charge sheeted. The parents are liable to be compensated for the ordeal they underwent in taking up the matter before the court on several occasions,” the court observed. It also added that though not on the grounds mentioned by Single Judge, for the agony and ordeal by the parents, the compensation awarded by the Single Judge was justified.