Today, Malti was supposed to meet the SSP in the afternoon. We had organized a lawyer, Shiv to accompany her. I got calls saying that the SSP and IO had been rude to the Tehelka journalist and to ask Malti not to go alone...
I called her just as she had left home. In the nick of time as it turned out. She had been going on her own to the SSP. I asked her to go back home and wait and Shiv would call her up and come along with her, and not to go alone. She agreed and returned home.
Shiv finished his work for the morning and took her to meet the SSP in the afternoon. Once there, the SSP told them that their investigation said that Naina had died a natural death of TB and thus there was no need for an FIR. Shiv asked for a copy of the investigation report and the police provided it to him. It also contained various papers from doctors about her being treated. [it will be scanned and put up shortly]
The important things to notice here are that we still don't have an FIR and the SSP seems to have some superpower that is able to identify death from TB in a person already cremated, since not having a post mortem means that there is no way to prove a natural death either.
It is also strange that she had spoken with her mother earlier in the evening and she died of TB hours later. I spoke with a few doctors, and they say this sounds unlikely. She would have sounded sick - TB is not like a heart attack.
So, with this in mind, our options are now clear. We must go the court route.
We are planning to file a case against the police as well for refusing to register an FIR in a case where murder and dowry harassment is claimed. Details will follow as they are done, rather than lay out details of every plan being talked about.
Malti continues to insist that her daughter was not sick.
We will also have to check the details of doctors and treatment included in the investigation report.
Below are significant excerpts from group email conversations in terms of the thinking that is happening.
In the meanwhile, we should (ideas including our discussion and some brilliant ones by @aroradush
- organize lawyer brains to draft an FIR that is as bomb proof as possible.
- Write letters (same letter) advising of case to various people - senior cops, local, regional politicians... heck even Sonia Gandhi, why not.
- Rope in some famous names to do some of the letters to high profile names and make that public. Open letter by famous personality - open letter season anyway (and deliver hard copy).
- Identify people to FIR against. For example: In laws, cops, street doctor who issued certificate of her being ill after her death. Local politician who may be protecting these people - remember the crime happened in his place. Who among these/more?
- Keep the momentum on in social media. regular updates, promoting all coverage, etc
- Longer term, we need to figure out funding.
- There is a clarification I seek. Is Malti Singh filing a written complaint with the SSP bringing on record the police refusal to accept FIR? If so, who has drafted the complaint? A look at the draft should be had.
- In case SSP doesn't meet/refuses to meet Malti Singh, this written complaint should anyway be given to the SSP's office, and an acknowledgement obtained.
- If even that doesn't seem feasible, have the complaint mailed to SSP by Registered Post and the receipt retained. Another copy should also be sent to the DGP just for record.
- This would be helpful to show, later when a writ may have to be moved, that all possible means have been exhausted and even SSP should then be named in the writ.
About the drafting of the complaint. I think it should be done today. She shouldn't go there without any demand. She should have a complaint. And that is the limit of my brilliance.
One of you legal eagles should write up something suitable so others can quickly look and poke holes/suggest/whatever and in an hour or two, we have something Sunny can print out and take along when he goes with Malti to the SSP.
I am hoping that we start hitting milestones from today onwards - getting little tick marks of stuff done. Enough "want to make FIR and cops disagreed". Even if it is a basic complaint and acknowledged, even if it is a refusal that we convert to registered letter/fax... but specific actions done. (I am hoping that is not naive in assuming some blocks/preconditions I don't know about)
Also thinking of using general public as leverage. Like Hogwarts enrollment letter if you read Harry Potter 😀 they refuse to take complaint, register letter, fax, put the bloody complaint on the blog and let everyone with a fax machine have at it or mail it to the police station - registered each time... Kind of whoever walks by giving the bell a toll - no major wars to be fought, but collective effort piling up.
Also note: At one point of time, this police inaction should also be made into formal complaint before the National Commission for Women.
Compaint before NCW can be filed simultaneously. Spoke to Fazal he is drafting the complaint as i write this. I am stuck in court, hence cannot do anything.
Ok. Was at court, now back. I think we need to get a copy of the complaint that has been filed with that police station. Anything we draft should not differ from whatever has been written in that complaint, we will have to be precise with dates etc also.
Thats the first thing to do I think, before we file/submit anything written anywhere.
What do the fellow lawyers think ? 🙂
Important one from @aroradush:
Task One : Get a copy of the complaint which has been filed at the police station. That in my limited experience, is imperative.
Task Two : Draft a strong Fir, Sunny/Shiv can go with Malti and get it filed, if not, lets send one to the ssp, copy to all senior police officers by registered post, with a cover letter elucidating the legal consequences of refusing an FIR.
Task three : Build the pressure, write a letter to the SHRC, NCW, Local MP, CM, Chiddu, and even Sonia Gandhi- As crazy as that may sound.
Send a copy of these letters to the media houses. Making sure that the media knows who all have been sent letters and thereby comment on their failure to act.
Lets make it a priority for the authorities to act.
- Getting a copy of the complaint filed at the police station is NOT important. Malti Singh may not have saved a copy and the cops won't give one. That she has gone there several times is indisputable.
- Fresh complaint already being drafted, to obtain directions under Sec 156(3) IPC. That would suffice.
- What is more important, who is drafting complaint to SSP brining to record refusal by the PS to accept FIR/Register Case?
- Copies of this complaint must be sent to IG, Meerut Range Rajeev Krishna, who is Ghaziabad SSP Raghubir Lal's immediate superior as well as to DGP, UP Police at Lucknow. Those should be faxed and again, copies of same sent by Registered Post as well. For procedural propriety.
S just spoke to malti Singh. She has a lawyer with her now.Mr Kanungo. I spoke with him. he seems to be on top of things. they are waiting to meet ssp now.
Is this useful?
According to IPC Section 304B, “Where the death of a woman is caused by burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of her marriage and it is shown that soon before her death she was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband for, or in connection with, any demand for dowry, such death shall be called “dowry death”. Such husband or relative shall be deemed to have caused her death.”
In the sense that she was not married for seven years. There have been dowry demands and her mother is working on a list of things given and demanded and proof of having given where possible. She had spoken with her mother on phone around 5:30pm and was fine. Then she was dead at 9:00pm - definitely doesn't sound like normal circumstances.
A post mortem is required to be filed in such circumstances, which they didn't - they can claim ignorance. But they didn't even wait for her mother to come back!
Another useful track may be to find out who the doctors were who treated her for this so called TB 3 months ago - if it was true. Also in terms of seeking to prove that the doctor's "certificate of illness" was issued after she was cremated - I don't know how this can be done - serial numbers or something?
In any case calling in all doctors as witness/cross questioning? I don't know how this works. But to check if they are speaking truth. Because Malti says Naina was not ill. She did not have TB. She says that they got a doctor to write that she was ill a day after she was cremated. I don't know how she knows this - if it is an angry accusation or somehow fact that she got informed of somehow.
Another thing - there is no motive for cops to refuse the case. Then why are they risking their freedom, jobs and going out of their way to act like assholes for no reason unless there is a reason. Who would want this FIR not filed? So, in a way, the fact that the cops did not file FIR and our writ (?) against them is evidence of a cover up for this case - and this is for certain going to work because 4 days and no FIR - no need for anything else. Why no investigation of suspicious death they knew about and were informed of? (or am I wrong?).
So, if this is evidence of cover up? What is there to cover up? Maybe someone doesn't want the case filed? Why not? I mean, a grieving husband and such like have no reason to imagine someone would file a case against them and be ready with a coverup unless a need for a coverup was anticipated. They would be mourning innocently dead wife, no?
Just some thoughts. One gap I see is that cops could have their own reasons of refusing FIR unrelated with the in-laws - unlikely, but who knows - maybe they just didn't want to work or something. But if we file against the cops, then these things should start clearing up... I hope.
Quiet appreciate the points you raised. Also spoken to My father who is a doctor and a TB specialist. He told me death in case of TB is less. It happened when u failed to get the treatment. In this case Mother is the best to know about the decesed.
One more thing We will call the doctors as witness in the witness box and will testify the letters/ Medical subscription they issued.
Its Procedure to make our case strong. To we are moving application under 154 CrPC. We need their(Police) refusal to get them block in jail.
Cross questioning/evidence/witness is a very very later stage. Our efforts right now must be focused on doing all that is required to get an FIR registered.
Thats what we apprehended, No FIR. Dont worry. Will go through Court. Petition i am ready will send u in an hour as google document.