Narayan Patra: A Fight Against Judges For Justice

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In a civilised society people fight in the courts for justice. But sometimes someone also fights against the courts for justice. Narayan Patra of Laxmisagar in the capital city of Orissa is one such person.

His daughter Kalyani was given in marriage to Atmaram Sahu of Nuabazar, Talcher on 27.5.1994. She died on 15.6.1995. Her death has now formed the crux of a case between the High Court of Orissa and Patra.

Patra suspects it to be a dowry-death. Circumstances justify such a suspicion. The deceased lady’s in-laws had informed the High Court of Orissa while moving for bail, that Kalyani succumbed to a fall in the bathroom.”

At about 6.30 a.m. 15.6.1994 Kalyani was taking bath inside the bathroom. As there was no response, out of suspicion, Chittaranjan (the father-in-law) forcibly opened the door and saw Kalyani lying inside the bathroom facing the roof”, they said in their respective bail petitions to the High Court. But the post-mortem examination revealed quite a different scenario. “The death was due to asphyxia and shock caused by ante-mortem hanging”it underlined.

The High court, considering the gravity of the offence refused bail in the first instance.But later it was granted by the same high court on the plea that there was no case under section302 of IPC.Patra reacted very sharply.On the basis of the post-mortem report and other proofs noted in course of investigation,the Police had charged the accused persons under section 302 of IPC for murder of Kalyani vide the chargesheet filed in the court of the Sub-Divisional Judicial magistrate, Talcher, on 7.1.1996.How then the Judges accepted that there was no charge under section 302 of IPC? Patra linked the Judges to corrupt practices.The High Court took suo moto cognisance of this aspersion and initiated a contempt of court proceeding against Patra vide No.3022 of which the later has promptly responded with elaboration of the causes of his doubts over the credibility of the Judges.

In all fairness the contempt proceedings should have completed as quickly as possible because the credibility of Judges was at stake. Unfortunately this has not been done.

It is puzzling that the prosecution did not point out to the High Court that the original statement of the accused described the lady as found dead in her bathroom floor with her face towards the roof. When the falsehood of this was laid bare by the post-mortem report a new plea was obviously cooked up to show the death as “a case of hanging, not a case of strangulation, nor a case of smothering.”How could it not be a case of strangulation or smothering? The first witness of the dead body of Kalyani was her father-in-law who had forced opened the bathroom to see her lying on the floor facing the roof. He had not seen her hanging from the roof, but had seen her lying dead on the floor facing the roof. So the case can not be a case of hanging. If so, it is a case either of strangulation or of smothering.

If the later two probabilities are found unfounded, then it must be a case of hanging perpetrated by the accused persons collectively or by one of them, which had caused “asphyxia and shock” that took away her breath and extinguished her life.It is easily perceivable that the killer of the lady after executing the ghastly offense elsewhere (because there is no hook or any other provision in the bathroom to execute a hanging) must have in person or in company with the rest of the members of the family unhooked the dead body from the material used in the hanging and thereafter laid her down on the bathroom floor positioning her face towards the roof.This important aspect has not been looked into by the High Court although the same must have guided the Police to determine the death to be a case of murder.

The unfortunate father of the deceased lady is sharp in his reactions.When the case records are fortified with the chargesheet that charges the accused persons for murder,prosecutable u/s 302 of IPC,how could the judges of the High Court who enlarged the alleged culprits on bail failed to see the same in the chargesheet?He further makes a very serious allegation.The first witness of the dead body i.e.the father-in-law of the deceased lady who had revealed under oath that when he had opened the bathroom forcibly out of suspicion,he had seen the lady as “lying inside the bathroom facing the roof”, has ,after all the accused persons were enlarged on bail,exired.He must have been killed by the real killer of Kalyani in order to prevent the truth from prevailing.In course of examination in the court,he could have been questioned to reveal the reasons of the socalled suspicion and with his presence in the court, the hanging aspect of the case could have been doomed whereupon the truth that Kalyani was killed through stangulation or smothering must have prevailed.Such a suspicion may be very wide but it can not be outright rejected as unacceptable.

If the High Court had not granted bail or had stipulated a time for completion of hearing after the accused persons were enlarged on bail, the most material witness in the case might not have breathed his last,Patra observes with a sigh.

This case deserves attention of everybody desirous to see that adminstration of justice be never eclipsed.

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