Court decides to lay down rules to deal with similar contingencies in future
Shocked to come across an instance of two court staff having reportedly stolen 88 case properties, including bullets and other ammunition, from the custody of a judicial magistrate court, the Madras High Court has decided to lay down rules to deal with similar contingencies in the future.
Justice P.N. Prakash on Wednesday said the High Court would even examine the possibility of amending the Criminal Rules of Practice and provide guidelines to judicial officers on how to conduct trial when case properties either get stolen or are found to be missing from court custody.
The theft of bullets and other properties came to light when the judge was hearing a petition filed recently by the Deputy Commandant of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) seeking return of seven rifles, equal number of bayonets and over 400 bullets that were seized from its personnel by the railway police in 1996.
The High Court was told that there was an altercation between some CRPF personnel and the passengers of Cheran Express on July 6, 1996. When the train was passing between Egathur and Kadambathur in Tiruvallur district, then CRPF constable Atul Chandra Das opened fire leading to the death of a civilian by name Raja.
The Railway police took all the CRPF personnel as well their weapons into custody and handed them over to the jurisdictional judicial magistrate. Subsequently, the Kadambathur police registered a murder case against Das but he obtained bail and absconded since then, leading to non conclusion of the trial till date.
Further, Justice Prakash found that some bullets in the custody of the magistrate were missing; they were part of 88 different case properties reportedly stolen by a head clerk and an assistant in the magistrate’s court in 2009. The CB-CID was able to recover only 36 of those stolen properties and the rest of the 45 properties could not be traced.
The judge could not fathom the fact that the trial in the theft case booked against the court staff, too, had not been completed till date. Hence, he asked Director General of Police J.K. Tripathy, Additional DGP (CB-CID) Prateep V. Philip, Tiruvallur principal district judge J. Selvanadhan, Tiruvallur judicial magistrate K.P. Ilavarasi and CRPF DIG Praveen C. Gagh to join the hearing of the case before him through video conference.
The DGP entered appearance and told the court that the murder accused Das was suspected to be in Assam or Meghalaya. Stating that he had established contacts with his counterparts in those States, Mr. Tripathy assured that a non-bailable warrant pending against the accused would be executed and he would be brought back to Tamil Nadu soon to face trial.
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