The Chandigarh Police have failed to file a chargesheet in the suicide case of Maya,a domestic help,within the stipulated period of 60 days. As a result,the sole accused in the case,Mercy Sebastian,was released on bail by a local court last week.
Mercy,who was booked in July on charges of abetting suicide,got bail even though a Sessions court had previously turned down her regular bail plea.
Attributing their failure to confusion over interpretation of law,the Chandigarh Police said the chargesheet was to be filed within 90 days.
As per law,an investigating agency has to file a chargesheet before a local court within 90 days,where the offence attracts sentence of a minimum of 10 years,life imprisonment or death; in other cases,the chargesheet has to be filed within 60 days. Mercy once again moved court for bail in September on the ground that the police have not filed the chargesheet within 60 days.
The prosecution had argued that in an offence of abetment to suicide (Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code),the deadline is 90 days and not 60 days. To clear the confusion,the court heard the arguments of both parties on the issue. Advocate Pawan Girdhar,the counsel for Mercy Sebastian,contended that in a case of abetment to suicide,the investigating agency is under obligation to present the chargesheet within 60 days. Pawan cited umpteen High Court and Supreme Court judgments to buttress his argument. Interestingly,the Chandigarh Police finally filed the chargesheet on the day the court granted bail to Mercy.
On July 24,Maya,a help at Don Bosco Navjeevan Church,Sector 24,Chandigarh,was found dead. Her body was found hanging from the ceiling fan.
While the police registered a case on charges of abetment to suicide against Mercy Sebastian,niece of Father Sebastian,the family of the deceased alleged that Maya was murdered after Mercy learnt that her son Anup had proposed marriage to her.
Advocate Madhu P Singh,counsel for Mayas family,had sought change of investigating officer Avtar Singh,who allegedly caused a delay of two days in registering the FIR.
Senior Superintendent of Police Naunihal Singh said: I am not completely aware of the contents of the case. I assure that if any police officer has done a shoddy job,he will not be spared and held accountable. I will see if there has been any lapse.