The victim’s mother had filed the writ petition to transfer the criminal investigation of her daughter’s death from the Telangana state police to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday criticised the Telangana state police for their “insensitivity” in the investigation of the suicide of the public sector employee allegedly due to sexual harassment in the workplace.
The victim’s mother had filed the writ petition to transfer the criminal investigation of her daughter’s death from the Telangana state police to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent central agency, LiveLaw reported.
According to the petitioner, the victim had been a Hindi-speaking citizen working at BHEL’s Hyderabad office, while the main accused, her supervisor was a native of the state. With the police not filing a charge sheet for more than eight months, the petition stated, “Hence, there is strong apprehension to the mind of the petitioner that the Telangana police has a strong linguistic and regional bias in favour of the accused and against the deceased.”
The bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat noted that it didn’t appreciate the request made by the Telangana state counsel for adjournment of the case for four weeks.
“To avoid embarrassment to the State, we refrain from recording the reasons mentioned across the Bar for that adjournment. The reasons stated indicates the insensitivity with which the investigation is progressing in this case. We say no more for the time being,” the order stated.
The Supreme Court directed the Telangana home secretary to “personally look” into the case and issue “appropriate directions to all concerned”.
According to the petition, her daughter had joined BHEL in July 2009. “The suicide note dated October 16, 2019 of the deceased and her last telephonic conversation of the same day with her sister categorically establish that her supervisor and her office colleagues subjected her to extreme level of physical and mental harassment or attempted to rape due to which she was forced to commit suicide,” it was submitted. The victim was 33 years old at the time of her death.
It was pointed out by the petitioner that the despite the mention in the suicide note, Telangana state police has not yet arrested the main accused or any other accused persons, and has not conducted any custodial interrogation. Instead, the petitioner alleged that the police gave a “clean chit” to the accused in their police report of June 2020, which was rejected by the National Commission for Women.
The police seized the daughter’s mobile phone after her death by suicide, but the police took 40 days to ask for an unlock pattern. Similarly, the Telangana police took a similar time to ask for an English translation of the audio recording of the conversation of the victim and her sister.
Another lapse noted by the petitioner was that the police did not seize the mobile phones of the accused, despite the victim requesting the forensic examination to retrieve data.
“There is another shocking attempt of the Telangana police to blame the unfortunate the suicide to the deceased’s alleged mental illness, despite the fact that her employer BHEL has categorically deposed that no sign of any mental illness was shown by her at her workplace,” the petitioner submitted.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. Icall, a counselling service run by TISS, has maintained a crowdsourced list of therapists across the country. You could also take them to the nearest hospital.
Courtesy The Wire