Observing that a victim has a fundamental right to a fair trial, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered Maharashtra Police to further investigate the alleged assault on a man at NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad’s bungalow over an objectionable social media post. The alleged incident had taken place on the night of April 5, 2020. According to the victim’s complaint, some policemen were also involved in “abducting” him and taking him to the bungalow of the former Maharashtra minister. While refusing to order a CBI probe in the matter, a bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar said the Bombay High Court has not committed any error in refusing to transfer the investigation to CBI.
The apex court said it is in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court insofar as refusing to transfer the investigation to CBI is concerned. “Even according to the state investigation agency, a further investigation is required. As observed and held by this Court in the aforesaid decisions, the victim has a fundamental right of a fair investigation and fair trial.
“Therefore, mere filing of the chargesheet and framing of the charges cannot be an impediment in ordering further investigation/re-investigation/de novo investigation, if the facts so warrant,” the bench said. “It is further observed and held that the power to order fresh, de novo or re-investigation being vested with the constitutional courts, the commencement of a trial and examination of some witnesses cannot be an absolute impediment for exercising the said constitutional power which is meant to ensure a fair and just investigation,” it said.
The apex court instructed authorities to conduct a further investigation and complete it as early as possible, ideally within a period of three months.
Reportedly, Anant Karmuse, 40, a city-based civil engineer, was visited by some police personnel at his house, who told him he needed to come with them to the police station, but they instead took him to Awhad’s bungalow. At the bungalow, he was beaten black and blue by some 10-15 men over a morphed picture of the minister he had shared on Facebook, Karmuse had alleged in his complaint. Karmuse had also criticised Awhad on social media when the latter announced that he would not follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to light lamps on April 5, 2020.