The state human rights body has directed the Maharashtra Police to pay Rs 5 lakh in compensation to a doctor couple from Sangli, accused of the murder of a nursing home employee in 2009 but against whom charges are yet to be filed a decade on.
The facts of the case affected the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) to such an extent that acting chairman and member M A Sayeed began his order with the following remark: “…the facts therein unfold a tale that may well harrow up our legal souls and make jurisprudential hair stand on end, like the proverbial quills on the fretful porcupine.” The applicants, Dr Kailas (48) and Dr Vaishali Sanmadikar (45) are trustees of Shri Umajirao Sanmadikar Medical Foundation in Jath taluka, Sangli district. Dr Kailas is an orthopaedic surgeon while his wife is an ayurveda doctor. The deceased, Kajal Babar, worked as a Class IV employee at a nursing home operated by the couple in Jath.
According to police, Babar was found dead with stab wounds and multiple fractures, a few kilometers away from his home in Sanmadi village on September 3, 2009, a couple of hours after leaving work. On the basis of a complaint filed by his mother, a case of murder was registered against unknown persons.
However, it was only in 2013, when the probe was transferred from the local police to the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), that the couple came under suspicion.
The same year, the CID also moved an application before a local court seeking to conduct a brain mapping test and narco-analysis of the couple, saying they were not cooperating with the investigation. The court had rejected the CID’s application, following which it filed a revision petition before the Sangli Sessions Court challenging the order of the lower court. However, the revision petition is yet to be decided.
Dr Kailas told The Indian Express that their trust and nursing homes employ over 200 people. “We do not know each of our employees personally. The Class IV employees report to their heads of department. We only meet all our staff once a year to discuss and address their issues,” he said.
Since 2013, he added, the CID had questioned the doctors twice about their role in Babar’s death. He said they only became aware of the CID’s intentions to carry out the tests after local newspapers reported that the court had rejected the police’s request.
The police had also told the court that Dr Vaishali was in an extramarital relationship with Babar and that Dr Kailas had murdered him when he got to know of the affair. After the couple became aware of the police’s allegations against them, they approached the MSHRC and National Commission for Women for a speedy probe.
While choosing not to comment on the police’s case and its charges against the couple, Sayeed, in his order, expressed concern over the “very unreasonable and inordinate delay in completing the investigation”.
The order states that, “…it can be held without a shadow of doubt that the delay in investigation has certainly infringed and invaded the fundamental rights of the complainant to live with honour and dignity. In such cases where a stigma is virtually imposed on a person and that too on the ground of the lady having illicit relations with the servant employed for performing work at home as well as at the doctor’s clinic, the only conclusion which can be drawn by this Commission is violation of human rights of the concerned doctors.”
The commission also did not appreciate that in its defence, the police shifted blame for the delay onto the local Sessions Court for not hearing its revision petition on priority.
“It is only after coming down on the concerned police officials and officers a month back that hearing of the revision petition came to be expedited by the concerned police. However, the latest update has not been filed nor any police officer either attended the proceeding today nor on the previous dates,” the order states.
The commission has directed the state home department to complete the investigation “within a reasonable period”.
Dr Kailas, who got to know of the commission’s order a week ago, said he had no intention of using the compensation awarded to him. “We do not need the money. If we are paid the compensation, we will keep it in reserve to help the mother of the deceased,” he said.