In the instant matter of Bandhna Toppo v. State of Orissa The father of the deceased sought a new inquiry or reinvestigation of his son’s death in a criminal application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, in which Birendra Lakra, a former hockey player, was one of the accused parties. On February 28, 2022, Birendra Lakra, the deceased’s father, claimed that his son Anand Toppo had been taken unconscious to Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar. After the doctor pronounced him dead, the petitioner tried to file a complaint but was unsuccessful since a First Information Report for an Unnatural Death by Suicide had already been filed. The petitioner requested registration and a thorough inquiry in a written complaint that was forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack. The FIR was filed after the police acknowledged the complaint. No prima facie evidence was presented against the suspected accused people beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a final assessment. Affected by the final report, the petitioner filed a criminal application with the court.
Analysis of Court order
Justice Sashikanta Mishra of the Orissa High Court’s Single Judge Bench approved the application and ordered the Criminal Investigation Department’s Crime Branch to conduct a new investigation.
The Additional Professor’s assertion that the deceased had drunk alcohol and barbiturates before his death, as well as the IO’s inability to adequately take into account the claims of the accused parties, were both criticised by the Court. The doctor’s ability to conclusively state that the deceased knowingly ingested both chemicals surprised the court. According to the doctor, the death may have resulted from antemortem hanging or drinking alcohol combined with barbiturates. A comprehensive inquiry is required, according to the court, given the accusations of wrongdoing. There were inconsistencies in the inquiry that made it impossible to determine that the death was caused by suicidal hanging, and the information gathered by the IO was insufficient to rule out foul play.
The Court emphasised the need for a thorough and impartial inquiry in criminal law since it aids in learning the facts. The investigation, in this case, was judged appropriate for a reinvestigation by the court because it was deemed essential. According to Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the High Court may, in suitable circumstances, order an independent or specialised agency to conduct an inquiry. The IIC worked with the I.O. to make sure the final report was presented as a factual error, the Court remarked. High-ranking Police Officer Birendra Lakra was charged with bias during the inquiry, and the Court did not deem it appropriate to order the same agency to reinvestigate the matter. Instead, the Court granted the criminal motion and ordered the Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department to conduct a further investigation into the matter. Since Birendra Lakra is a Senior Police Officer holding the level of Deputy Superintendent of Police, the Additional Director General was instructed to assign the inquiry to a Senior Officer with at least the status of deputy inspector general. The earlier IO received instructions to send the CID the case diary and any records gathered throughout the inquiry.
CASE NAME – Bandhna Toppo v. State of Orissa, Criminal Miscellaneous No. 1462/23