The Charkop police have come in for criticism from legal experts for registering a case of abetment of suicide against Premnath Khatare (40).
Though Yashwant (name changed) had said that his father Premnath killed Geeta, the boy’s mother, the police registered a case of abetment of suicide against Premnath, saying that the seven-year-old boy was in shock and was giving different versions of the incident and thereby creating confusion.
“The police have to go by what the child says first; they cannot interrogate the child and then record the statement,” said advocate Mubim Solkar. “If there is prima-facie enough evidence that substantiates the child’s claim, then they should register an FIR under Section 302 (murder).” In the subsequent investigation if the police find no evidence against the accused then they can file the chargesheet for the lesser offence, he said.
“What the child says first has to believed to be authentic,” said advocate Wahab Khan. “The statements that the child makes later could be under the pressure from the other members of the family.”
Khan cited the example of the Best Bakery case where even after the witnesses turned hostile, the court convicted the accused based on their initial statements.
However, not all legal experts believe that the police have erred.
“The very first reaction of the child need not be the truth,” said advocate Majeed Memon. “When there is any serious offence the police have to accordingly also verify the immediate available evidence even before the arrest of the accused.”
Former commissioner of police Satish Sahani said: “If the child is under the age of the 12, where he cannot narrate what he has seen, then the police should register the complaint as complainants and also mention the fact that the child has alleged murder.”