Senior Hyderabad police officer to probe BHEL suicide case, Telangana tells SC
- The victim’s mother had approached the court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in July 2020. In her petition, she highlighted instances to show unwillingness on the part of the police to follow leads to identify the culprits behind her daughter's tragic end.
Over a year after a young finance professional facing sexual harassment at her workplace ended her life in Hyderabad, the Supreme Court's monitoring of the probe has now caused the Telangana government to assign further investigation of the case to a senior police official. The court approved the decision of the state and sought details of the probe undertaken by the new officer to be submitted in court within four weeks.
The victim’s mother had approached the court seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in July 2020. In her petition, she highlighted instances to show unwillingness on tpart of the police to follow leads to identify the culprits behind her daughter's tragic end. The victim died on October 17, 2019 and a suicide note left by her described the manner in which she was tormented and sexually harassed by her supervisor and colleagues at Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), Hyderabad. An attempt to rape her at the office premises traumatized her, acting as the trigger for her suicide. The victim had revealed this fact to her sister a day before her death.
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar heard the petition on January 11 and examined the affidavit presented by VC Sajjanar, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad giving details of the investigation conducted so far. The Telangana government on its own assured to entrust some senior official to conduct further investigation with immediate effect. The bench, also comprising Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, recorded this assurance in its order and sought a detailed progress report from the state by February 10, the next date of hearing
Earlier, on December 5, the Court had made strong observations with regard to the insensitivity shown by the police in handling the probe in this case. The Court directed the Telangana Home Secretary to personally examine the matter and issue appropriate orders. The probe since then picked up pace.
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava who appeared for the victim’s mother said, “Following the Supreme Court monitoring, the investigation is now progressing in a just and fair manner. In the light of the recent evidences gathered, which I cannot disclose, the petitioner is quite confident of getting justice.”
The bench told the state not to reveal details of investigation as the probe was still on. The top court clarified in the order that the move to entrust probe of the case to a senior police official shall not be seen as a reflection on the investigation conducted so far.
The victim, aged 33, had joined BHEL in July 2009 and maintained a good track record. A week prior to the incident, the victim filed a complaint before the Cyber Cell of the Telangana Police alleging that her colleagues (named in the suicide note) hacked her mobile phone. No action was taken on her complaint. After her death, the police took 40 days to unlock her phone and made no attempts to retrieve data from the phones of the accused named in the suicide note, the victim’s mother stated in her petition.
The mother accused the police of botching up the probe in order to give a clean chit to the accused. She had earlier approached the National Commission for Women (NCW) with a complaint. In response, the Telangana Police filed a report on June 2, 2020 telling the Commission that no material was available against the persons named in the suicide note. For eight months after the victim’s death, no charge sheet was filed. The police alleged that the death was a result of her alleged mental illness although BHEL testified her to be mentally fit.
Bringing all this on record before the Supreme Court, the victim’s mother, a resident of Bhopal filed a writ petition seeking investigation of the case to be transferred from Telangana Police to an independent agency such as CBI.
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