Pravish Chanam Death Case: Court rejects CBI closure report, orders further investigation

The Court of Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), Ghaziabad court stated that several crucial evidences were ignored by the investigating agency.

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The Court of Special Judicial Magistrate (CBI), Ghaziabad on Wednesday ordered further investigation into the case of Manipur student Pravish Chanam who was found dead in Noida, Uttar Pradesh in September, 2017.

The court rejected the closure report submitted by the CBI which had taken over the investigation from UP Police in 2019, and allowed the protest petition filed by the family of Chanam against the closure report.

The court stated that several crucial evidences were ignored by the investigating agency. The order issued by the court stated, “It can be said that there is something more than what is being portrayed through sketched illustrations. The intention to outwit and hoodwink the court with the almost deluded closure report thus become latently apparent. Thus, in the considered view of the court, further investigation is required to be done. Accordingly, the protest petition is allowed, closure report filed by CBI in RC 5 (S)/2019/CBI/SCB/ Lucknow is hereby rejected. CBI is directed to further investigate the case".

The court observed that there are many lapses on the part of UP Police which has hauled the case with open ends. The court stated that it is in deep pain to note that due to such lapses, the parents and family of the deceased did not even get a chance to see the dead body of the deceased or to perform the last rites of their late son.

The court after examining the submission of the closure report and all materials including witnesses’ statements stated that the shoddy investigation done by UP Police in the present case with sinister potential with regard to human life deserves strong disapproval by the court. Such manner shown by the police strikes a blow at rule of law. Justice VR Krishna Iyer had very aptly said that “Who will police the Police?” it stated.  

It directed that therefore, the copy of the order be sent to the director general of police, state of Uttar Pradesh in order to take strict actions against the erring officials who were related with the investigation of the case under sections 302, 201 IPC of PS Sector 20, Gautam Buddha Nagar.

Pravish, a 22-year-old from Manipur who had come to Noida to attend a music concert, was found dead on September 9, 2017. After four days, the local police cremated his body as “unclaimed,” after autopsy without waiting for the family, although a missing complaint filed by his friends was already then on record. The case was transferred to the CBI after widespread public outcry seeking proper investigation in the case.

After the CBI closed the case terming the death to be ‘accidental’, Sh Phanjouban Linthoingambi, a cousin of Pravish, filed a petition through advocate Dushyant Kumar Singh, seeking further investigation into the matter by a competent authority, replacing the present investigating officer. It was argued that the post-mortem report mentioned a number of bodily injuries, which suggest murder

The court pointed out certain discrepancies in the closure report that the different statements of the witnesses and the post mortem report as regard to the injuries which were present in the body of the deceased. 

The court also observed that the agency did not explore the inconsistencies in the statements of the friends of Chanam, and did not take action to secure the cooperation of Chanam's girlfriend, who had made a call to his mobile phone after he had gone missing, in the investigation.

The court stated that the CBI's report stated that during such investigation, the statement of Jasmine, girlfriend of the deceased, could not be recorded as she did not cooperate in the investigation. The court stated that it fails to understand why despite such non cooperation, no legal action was proposed against her in view of her refusal to cooperate with CBI in such investigation. On bare perusal of this report, it appears that her examination is very crucial related to such an incident, it stated.

The court has directed to CBI that a progress report of such further investigation be filed by the investigating officer in person on November 22.

First Published:Oct. 13, 2021, 11:27 p.m.

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