While passing the order, a single judge bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar acknowledged that there is every possibility of doubts being raised as to the investigation carried out by the State Police as one of the named accused is the brother of the present MLA of Heirok Assembly Constituency in the State of Manipur, who was earlier associated with the police
The High Court of Manipur on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to take over the investigation into murder Ningthoujam Rohit Singh, who was shot dead at his home in Heirok on 22 December 2021 in poll-related violence, and initiate appropriate action thereon.
While passing the order, a single judge bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar acknowledged that there is every possibility of doubts being raised as to the investigation carried out by the State Police as one of the named accused is the brother of the present MLA of Heirok Assembly Constituency in the State of Manipur, who was earlier associated with the police.
“It is well settled that even if there is a shadow of a doubt being raised as to the impartiality and fairness of an investigation in a criminal case, it would impact the faith of the public in the criminal justice delivery system. In such situations, courts have always chosen to entrust investigation to an impartial investigating agency. The CBI is the premier investigating agency in the country and an investigation undertaken by it would inspire faith and confidence,” said the judgement.
While directing the CBI to take up the investigation into the case registered under Sections 458, 326, 302 & 34 IPC read with Section 25(1-C) of the Arms Act, 1959, the Chief Justice said the State authorities shall entrust all the case records pertaining to the case to the CBI and extend full cooperation in all respects to the CBI in the course of its investigation.
“The CBI shall endeavor to complete the investigation expeditiously and preferably, within six months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order,” he added.
Ningthoujam Rohit Singh was shot dead at about 12.15 am on 22 December 2021 at his home in Heirok. An FIR was registered under Sections 458, 326, 302 & 34 IPC read with Section 25 (1-C) of the Arms Act, 1959. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted on 24 December 2021 to probe the murder.
The FIR names — Thokchom Henrik, Laishram Biken Singh, Ningthoujam Panan Singh, Khundongbam Nicky, Thokchom Sanathoi and Thokchom Putro @ Bisworjit Singh as accused, along with their associates. Thokchom Putro is younger brother of sitting MLA of Heirok Assembly constituency Thokchom Radheshyam Singh who is seeking re-election on BJP ticket in the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly elections.
All accused named in the FIR were arrested on 24 December. They were granted bail by a Thoubal Sessions court on 22 March 2022.
The deceased’s brother Ningthoujam Roshan Singh approached the High Court of Manipur pleading for rejection bail granted to six accused.
While challenging the order of Thoubal Sessions Judge, Roshan, who is an eyewitness to the incident wherein his younger brother has died and his father sustained serious gunshot injury, also filed another petition to the HC seeking transfer of investigation to Central Bureau of Investigation under Section 482 CrPC.
In the petition, Roshan also complained that sufficient progress had not been made in the investigation and that no efforts were made by the Investigating Officer to recover the arms, sticks etc., which were used in the offence.
During the hearing, the CBI filed an affidavit through its Head of Branch, CBI, Imphal, stating that it would abide by any order passed by this Court.
Opposing Rohan’s plea, the state government filed an affidavit on 5 July 2022 detailing the steps taken during the investigation into the case. In the affidavit, the Deputy Secretary (Home), Government of Manipur stated that good progress was being made by the SIT in the investigation. However, despite extensive searches made at various houses, no incriminating articles, including weapons used in the offence, have been found till date, he admitted.
Further, the Deputy Secretary did not state in the affidavit that there was no necessity, in the light of the progress made, for the CBI to be brought into the picture. On the other hand, he stated that he had no comment to offer with regard to the prayer of the petitioner to entrust the investigation to the CBI.