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THE Bombay High Court has given two weeks’ time to the Pune police to place before it relevant information in connection with the “disappearance” of a 34-year-old woman from Dighi area in January, 2014. The court also warned the Pune police that it would initiate contempt of court proceedings if they failed to come up with concrete information in the case.
A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharathi H Dangre was hearing a petition filed by the missing woman’s father, Sashidharan Nair, last week, when the prosecution submitted before the court that the Pune police has made an all-out effort to trace the missing woman. “A team of police officials has visited West Bengal. The team has received some vital clues and information…,” the prosecution said, pleading for an extension.
While granting two weeks’ time, the court said, “If nothing concrete emerges from the information revealed and if the court comes to a conclusion that these were mere delaying tactics or attempts to shirk responsibilities, then the instructing police officials and the entire staff in-charge of the investigation will have to face the consequences.” The court said any false and misleading statement would result in proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, so that “a serious misconduct of this nature will not go unpunished.” The court has fixed January 4 as the next date for hearing the case.
Advocate Aashutosh Srivastava, who represented the missing woman’s father, described it as a landmark order. “The court has taken a very serious view of the matter and the fact that the woman remains untraced after three years… and that’s why it has warned of contempt of court proceedings if the police fail to come up with concrete facts,” the advocate said.
Y A Nandare, assistant police inspector of Crime Branch Unit 5, said, “We had sought time from the court to verify the vital inputs that we have collected… We had even visited West Bengal on the directives of the court.” Nandare added that he took charge of the case three months’ ago and his team was putting in all possible effort to trace the missing woman. “We are hopeful about tracing the woman,” he said.
Thirty-four-year-old Sijitha Madhavan, daughter of Sashidharan, went missing from her Dighi residence on January 31, 2014. Soon after she went missing, her husband Jiji Madhavan committed suicide allegedly due to “agony and humiliation”. Jiji and Sijitha have two children.
Sijitha’s family had alleged that one Anil Nair was responsible for her disappearance. The police had filed a case of abetment to suicide against Sijitha and Anil. However, police said they have conducted an investigation against Nair and have found nothing indicating his involvement. “Whenever he has been asked to come to police station for investigation, he has cooperated with us,” police said, adding that Nair has been acquitted by a court in the suicide case.
Welcoming the High Court order, Sijitha’s father alleged that the police have, from the beginning, “botched up the case”. “My daughter would have been traced had the police acted swiftly. They took four days to lodge the complaint and get in action,” he said.
Nair alleged that his daughter was communicating with Anil till late evening on the day she went missing. “I have procured call records…,” he said, adding that his son-in-law ended his life because the “police humilated him”. “Tujhe teri biwi sambhalne nahi aati kya? (can’t you handle your wife?)… This is what a policeman told my son-in-law… feeling humiliated, he ended his life,” Nair said.