Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Narayan Patra retired as a superintendent of audit under the Efficiency Audit Organization of Orissa Government. When in service, he was the strongest single voice, at least in Orissa, against Jawaharlal Nehru family transforming Indian democracy into hereditary family domain. Patra’s book “Ganatantra Banchao” published under his pseudo name ‘Phurufura’ was a curtain raiser of the foul game Nehru family was playing against the people. This book was profusely referred to by all those that were fighting against Congress misrule in the nineteen seventies in Orissa. This man, now 71, is still strong like steel against judges in pursuit of justice.
Patra’s beloved daughter Kalyani was given in marriage to Atmaram Sahu of Nuabazar, Talcher on 27.5.1994. She died on 15.6.1995, as informed in her father-in-law’s FIR, by slipping over the toilet floor. But this was evidently a false information, because the post-mortem report showed that the death “was due to asphyxia and shock caused by ante-mortem hanging”. Patra alleged that his daughter was murdered by her husband and family-in-law as he was not able to satisfy their dowry demands. Police arrested Atmaram and his father Chittaranjan, but helped the mother-in-law and sisters-in-law to escape. As the escaped persons were not brought to books, the issue hit the State Assembly. The then Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik had to tell the House that it was not easy for the police to apprehend the absconding accused persons as Sahu’s family was not only rich but also was highly connected and influential. However, he had assured, they would soon be arrested.
They were not arrested; but the prosecution tried to convert the suspected murder case into a case of suicide for which it was essential to obliterate the FIR filed by Chittaranjan that had noted that Kalyani having failed to come out of the toilet for quite a long time, he had forced open the toilet door and found her still body on the floor with her face towards the roof. Chittaranjan’s this FIR was ruining the family’s stance that Kalyani had committed suicide by hanging herself.
So, the FIR mysteriously missed from the records before the sessions court. Later, however, as Patra insisted upon action against missing of the FIR, a copy thereof was retrieved from the lower court records and admitted by Sahu as true copy of the original FIR, that was granted exhibit status.
Atmaram was punished with imprisonment when Chittaranjan was shown as dead and High Court was invoked to grant bail for the others. Attempts to treat the case as a case of suicide was galore in the High Court when bail was granted. Patra raised allegation of bribe against the judge who granted bail oblivious of the murder angle that gave birth to contempt of court proceeding against Patra. However, as Patra continued harping on his point, a special bench was created to adjudicate upon the case and deliver the judgment.
Patra is conducting his own case before this special bench. But sequences are such that he apprehends that impartial justice may not be made available to him.
He seems aggrieved by two factors. One: lackluster prosecution and two: open observation of a member of the special bench that makes him suspect that the judge is prejudiced against him.
On the second factor, he has preferred a written statement countering the judge’s observation. The statement is sent not only to the High Court itself, but also to the Chief Justice of India and President of the country and many others including the press.
Patra has alleged that on 18.02.2011 during the submissions of the state Counsel in support of State Appeal in the matter, Justice Valla took adverse view by pointing out from the evidence of PW-11 (Patra himself) that he (Patra) has not stated many facts in his 161 statement which he had deposed before the Court. On the other hand, the judge asked the state counsel to pray for the conviction of accused/convicted either under Sec.302 or 304-B, IPC as there cannot be conviction on both the Sections. Delay by the I.O. in the recording of 161 statements of PWs 11, 12 & 13 and in dispatching the report was another lacuna pointed out by the judge even as he observed that there was no cruelty on demand of dowry soon before death. These observations of the judge, Patra points out, are of cooly chaotic impact on prosecution.
In his statement, Patra has noted his reactions. He has quoted authorities to say,
“(A) FIR is not an encyclopedia of facts as in AIR 2006 SC 302, para-37; AIR 1990 SC 658; AIR 1997 SC 318; (1998) 14 OCR 571; AIR 2010 SC 849, para-17 and AIR 2010 SC 3506, para-5.
(B) (i) 161 statement is a brief statement.
(ii) It cannot contain all the facts deposed before the Court.
(iii) Witnesses have no control over I.O.
(iv) Omission in 161 statement is not contradiction. Sec: AIR 1996 SC 1393, para- 7; AIR 1979 SC 1234, para-3; 1993 Cri. L.J. 1736 (All); AIR 2003 SC 282, para-13; AIR 2010 SC 3071, para-8; AIR 2010 SC 3718, para-71.
(C) Conviction can be under both the Sections-302 and 304-B and 498-A, IPC. See: AIR 2009 SC 1454, para-21, AIR 2009 SC 1928, para-7;
(D) Defective investigation cannot fail justice. See: AIR 2003 SC 1164, Para-15; AIR 1999 SC 644, para-8; AIR 1998 SC 1850, Para-13; AIR 2004 SC 1920, para-5; AIR 2004 SC 2329, para-13; AIR 2004 SC 2329, para-12; AIR 2006 SC 1367, para-38; 2004 AIR SCW 1609, para-5 and AIR 2010 SC 3718, para-44.
(E) There was cruelty on demand of dowry soon before death as per application of principles of Justice as in AIR 2000 SC 2988, para-33; AIR 1984 SC 1622, para- 21(2), 21(5); AIR 2000 SC 2324, paras-14,15,16; AIR 2003 SC 809, para-22; AIR 2009 SC 1238, para-14; AIR 2007 SC 107, para-11; AIR 2008 SC 1982, para-19; (2008) 39 OCR (SC) 520, paras-11,15,18,19,20; AIR 2008 SC 982, para-10.
Interpretation of Law is individual. Patra may be or may not be right in his interpretation of Law.
He has used certain words to vent out his heart that look very harsh and I have no hesitation in saying that those words should best have been avoided. But taking into consideration the sobbing soul of a father who has been crying since 1995 for punishment to the murderers of his daughter, his words do not seem deliberate.
As the Chief Minister had told the Assembly, Sahu family is rich and highly influential.
If judiciary fails to expeditiously punish them for the crime of murder committed against a bride, it may be guessed by the aggrieved father of the murdered bride that they are protected because of their richness, high connections and influence.
Let it not happen.