The way the Raigad police dealt with the remains of Sheena Bora in 2012 will now be looked at closely by the office of the Maharashtra Director General of Police. An inquiry has been ordered into the matter by the Maharashtra DG’s office.
Senior IPS officers told The Sunday Guardian that there were glaring lapses in following the procedure laid down regarding such cases.
“I have sought all the information on this matter. I am closely verifying the details,” Sanjeev Dayal, Maharashtra Director General of Police, told The Sunday Guardian.
Suvez Haque, Superintendent of Police, Raigad, said at a press conference on Saturday evening that the local police had indeed failed to register an AD (Accidental Death report) or FIR (First Information Report) in the matter.
“We are looking into why it was not registered. An inquiry was ordered by the IG of Konkan range yesterday. We are looking into various aspects of the inquiry,” he told reporters.
He said that the remains were discovered by a villager on 23 May 2012, when he was gathering mangoes in the nearby area. He informed other villagers who approached the local police station.
“Thereafter, an inquest panchnama was conducted. The body was sent for post-mortem. Some samples of the bones, hair, nails were sent to the anatomy department of Sir JJ Hospital in Mumbai. The very same evening, an entry was made in the station diary of the local police station. But no action was taken thereafter. We are looking into why it was not taken,” he told journalists.
He said that the body was then buried at a location nearby.
The IPS officer, who was the Superintendent of Police of Raigad in 2012, has refused to talk to the media on record. Despite repeated attempts, he did not respond to any calls or messages seeking information about whether he was approached by the Pen police station at the relevant time.
“The police have definitely erred. Whenever such incidents happen, the first step is to register an Accidental Death report under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Then, an inquest panchnama is conducted detailing the conditions in which the body was found, the nature of injuries, the surroundings where the body was found,” a retired Maharashtra Director General of Police said.
The body has to be then sent for post mortem, DNA testing. “There was some foul play. A charred body shouts murder all through. How can procedure not be followed?” a criminal lawyer asked.
Throwing light on the detailed procedures to be followed by the police after the recovery of such body, a retired DGP of Maharashtra said, “There is a laid down procedure to dispose the remains of the found body, too. It is highly improbable that the body will be buried near a place where it was found. After the post mortem, the body should be sent to a morgue. The concerned police station should then relay the information about the nature of injuries and personal belongings found on the body, to all the police stations in the state. The police stations should co-ordinate to find if there was any missing person’s complaint matching the details and description of the deceased. The photographs of the victim should be kept in the police station for any further reference.”
Looking at the detailed set of procedures, it clearly looks like some police personnel erred in their duties. “If all the procedures would have been followed, the police should have had concrete evidence about the nature of injuries and other details about Sheena Bora,” the retired IPS officer said.
When asked if it was likely that a senior police officer might have scuttled the probe, he replied in the negative. “Why would a police inspector ask a senior, for example, an SP, to know if he should pursue the case? Even if you ask a head constable about the procedure to be followed, he will tell you. Where is the question of interference by a senior?” he asked.
Lawyers said that the lapses may cost the police dear during the trial stage when they might be used by the defence to get benefit of the doubt for the accused. “Certainly, this will be a drawback for the police during the trial,” said lawyer Abha Singh.