KOCHI: A terrible miscarriage of justice meted out to a migrant worker — who has been languishing in jail for more than five years for a crime he never committed — has come to light. The Kerala High Court has found that Sanjay Oraon of West Bengal was a “victim” of an unfair investigation in a case related to the murder of his friend — another migrant worker — registered in Mavelikkara police station in 2014.
“The real culprits in the case are still at large and the murder of a poor labourer who left his land to eke out a livelihood remains unsolved,” observed the court. The court also ordered a re-investigation by a superior police officer, not below the rank of a DySP, to bring out the truth.
A division bench comprising Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice MR Anitha issued the order while allowing the appeal filed by Sanjay seeking to quash the life imprisonment awarded by the Additional Sessions Court in Mavelikkara. The HC acquitted him after finding he was implicated falsely in the case.
The police case was that Sanjay murdered Hajiful Muhammed, alias Kaliya, by hitting his head and face with a piece of wood. P P Padmalayan, counsel for Sanjay, said the entire investigation was tainted so as to protect the actual culprits.
The court observed that the accused and the deceased were residing in a hall provided by their employer in Mavelikkara and this case showcased a typical example of the plight of such labourers. The accused has undergone incarceration for more than five years on trumped-up charges implicating him in the murder of his friend though he had accused others of being the actual culprits, it stated.
Entire investigation was a farce, says HC
Even after the alleged arrest of the accused, the police officer who conducted the initial and major part of the investigation did not take any measures to seize the mobile phones of the deceased and the accused. It would have been the best evidence to prove the location and presence of the accused and contact between the accused and the deceased during the relevant time.
The tower locations would have clearly proved those facts. Even without the seizure of the gadgets, the number would have revealed the call details and the location of the subscriber. Suppression of mobile phone call data of the accused and deceased can only be deemed to be wilful, the court observed.
It stated that no attempt was made to verify the story of the contractor and owner of a furniture and woodcraft industry that he was not in station that day. Verification of call details would have proved his claims. The entire investigation was a farce. There was an inordinate delay in lodging the FIR which remains unexplained, the court observed.
“There should not be a repetition of such harsh experiences for the migrant labourers who are living far away from their dear and near ones, in a land which has a culture and language alien to them, just to eke out a minimum sustenance,” said the court.
“If we just acquit the accused and stop there, such vestige of feudalism would result in its resurgence in our society, resulting in the innocent marginalised migrants being blamed for any and every crime committed in their vicinity. Hence, we are of the considered view that a re-investigation of the case is an absolute necessity to avoid the recurrence of such irresponsible acts from law-enforcing agencies in future,” said the court.