Kerala HC orders further probe into violinist Balabhaskar’s death

Asks CBI to look into gold smuggling angle | Observes that the circumstances leading to the accident in 2018 have to be probed further
Kerala High Court. (File photo)
Kerala High Court. (File photo)

KOCHI:  Kerala High Court on Thursday directed CBI to conduct further probe into the death of violinist Balabhaskar in a road accident in  2018. The court observed that the investigation conducted by the CBI is not foolproof, and the circumstances leading to the accident have to be investigated further.

The court directed the investigating officer to probe the case further, especially to identify whether there was any conspiracy or connection between the activities of gold smuggling and the accident and the consequent death of the musician. 

Balabhaskar with wife Lakshmi
Balabhaskar with wife Lakshmi

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas also set aside the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Thiruvananthapuram, which accepted the report of CBI saying that the death was accidental, with no evidence to prove otherwise. The court passed  the order on a petition filed by K C Unni, father of Balabhaskar and Soby George, one of the witnesses in the case against the order rejecting their pleas for a further probe.They alleged that the CBI had not conducted a thorough and proper investigation.

The violinist and his daughter died in a road accident in the wee hours of  September 25, 2018. His wife was also seriously injured in the accident. The  CBI was entrusted with the investigation on July 27, 2020, following the protest of his parents against the police probe,  which concluded that it was a case of a road accident. 

The court said that Balabhaskar’s parents’ doubt stems from certain events that transpired after the accident. Their suspicion revolves around the conduct of a few persons, including Prakash Thampi, a close aide of Balabhaskar; Jishnu, who was one of the early persons who came to know about the accident; and Vishnu Somasundaram, a friend and the former employer of the driver Arjun. 

The court said that the astuteness of an expert investigating agency ought to be reflected in leaving no stone unturned during the probe. “An inconsistency or a discrepancy, insignificant to the outside world, can, at times, be the lead for unravelling the mysteries of covert actions. To achieve this, a deep and pervasive probe is required,” the court observed and added,  “When it is felt that the investigation conducted has not been penetrating and the final report has still left several loose ends and many stones unturned, the imprimatur of a comprehensive investigation cannot be  accorded by the court.”

It added that the investigating agency had accepted the statements of the witnesses, who could be under a  scanner of doubt and against whom suspicions were raised by the parents of the deceased, as gospel truth, without confronting them with the materials collected. The CBI found that statement of Soby George that he saw a few persons attacking Balabhaskar’s car near a  petrol pump and sped away was false. Instead of ascertaining whether the circumstances narrated by Soby George could have been possible, CBI had gone on to register a crime against him, the court observed.  

HC raises questions about missing links in violinist’s death probe

Kochi: Expressing concerns about the missing links in the CBI’s investigation report regarding the death of violinist Balabhaskar, the Kerala High Court has raised questions about the actions of Prakash Thampi, an accused in a gold smuggling case. The court listed 20 unmatching points in the CBI’s investigation into Balabhaskar’s death, leading to suspicion.

  • Prakash Thampi, an accused in a gold smuggling case, hid Balabhaskar’s phone in his pooja room and refused to hand over the gadgets to Balabhaskar’s wife despite repeated requests
  • Prakash and Vishnu Somasundaram, who were arrested in connection with the gold smuggling case, underwent preventive detention under the COFEPOSA
  • Balabhaskar’s sudden change of plans to return to Thiruvananthapuram on the night of September 24, 2018, and conflicting reports about a proposed meeting with a music director
  • Prakash’s withdrawal of Rs 25,000 from an ATM near the accident scene just hours before the accident
  • The decision to shift the injured to a private hospital, Ananthapuri Hospital, rather than nearby well-known hospitals. The medical director of Sree Uthradam Thirunal Hospital (SUT), which is close to the site also happens to be a close relative of Balabhaskar and was never consulted
  • Prakash’s efforts to check CCTV camera footage from a juice shop Balabhaskar visited on the day of the accident
  • The call detail records of Balabhaskar’s phone showing it leaving the police station before 7:35 am on the day of the accident
  • The lack of questioning of Akash Shaji, a cousin of Vishnu, with whom Prakash had a conversation on the night of September 24, 2018
  • The absence of a seat belt on the driver, Arjun, despite the vehicle speeding at 94 km per hour at the time of the accident, while the front passenger, Lakhsmi, was wearing a seat belt and suffered serious injuries
  • Prakash’s connection with ‘Ananthapuri Hospital’ and his collection of Balabhaskar’s thumb impressions while at the hospital

The Kerala High Court has raised these concerns, suggesting the need for further investigation to address the discrepancies and suspicions surrounding Balabhaskar’s death.

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