Kerala High Court says no to CBI inquiry into Dr Vandana Das murder; ‘no flaws in current probe’

The petition said the police have been investigating the crime with a lackadaisical and apathetic approach to 'hide their security lapses'.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 06, 2024 | 2:56 PMUpdatedFeb 06, 2024 | 2:56 PM

A life cut short: Dr. Vandana Das. (Supplied)

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday, 6 February, dismissed a plea seeking CBI probe into the brutal killing of Dr Vandana Das by a patient at a taluk hospital in Kollam district in May 2023, saying there is no reason to doubt the integrity or credibility of the police investigation.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas rejected the plea moved by the doctor’s parents alleging that the police, “In a haste to wash their hands clean”, had fabricated the First Information Statement.

The court said that in cases where the police are under a scanner of doubt, and the fingers are pointed against them, investigation can be entrusted to the CBI.

“However, the said principle is not an inflexible rule. In the instant case, as noticed earlier, there is no allegation of any criminal intent or act committed by any of the police officers. Petitioners (victim’s parents) only allege ‘an act of cowardice’ by the police.

Also Read; Alleging cover-up, family of Dr Vandana Das, moves HC seeking CBI probe

‘No serious flaws’

“No serious flaws could be pointed out by the petitioners in the manner in which the investigation was conducted. Except for certain omissions on the part of the police who had accompanied Sandeep (accused) to the hospital. An omission to act in an expected manner cannot by itself impute criminality,” it said.

The court said that there is no allegation that the police officers who brought the accused to the hospital had any criminal intent while allegedly fleeing from the scene of occurrence.

“An error in their judgement or mistaking the gravity of the acts of the accused are not reasons to assume complicity in the crime.”

“The petitioners also do not have a case that any of those police officers had any motive or criminal intent or that they had allegedly withdrawn themselves from the scene of occurrence with criminal intent,” the court said.

It further said that the allegations in the instant case did not strictly point to the involvement of any police personnel in the crime and moreover, disciplinary proceedings were pending against those who were present at the hospital at the time of the incident.

‘No reason to doubt investigation’

“Since the petitioners have not been able to point out any specific reason to doubt the integrity or credibility of the investigation, this court finds no reason to interfere with the investigation already conducted or to transfer it to the CBI. Accordingly, there is no merit in this writ petition, and it is dismissed,” the court said.

The victim’s parents, in their plea, had alleged that the Kottarakkara police in a haste to wash their hands clean had fabricated the First Information Statement allegedly given by the friend of the deceased which was obtained intercepting him midway to the hospital while taking her for treatment.

The petition had also said that the police have been investigating the crime with a very “lackadaisical and apathetic approach” to “hide their security lapses”.

What happened on 10 May?

Dr Vandana Das, a native of the Kaduthuruthy area of Kottayam district and the only child of her parents, was a house surgeon at Azeezia Medical College Hospital and was working at the Kottarakkara taluk hospital as part of her training.

The accused, G Sandeep, a school teacher by profession, was brought to the hospital by police for the treatment of a leg injury on 10 May, 2023.

He had dialled the emergency number 112, claiming his life was in danger. When local police located him, he was standing away from his home, surrounded by residents and his relatives, and had a wound on his leg and a stick in his hand.

He was taken to the hospital accompanied by his brother-in-law and a local political party leader.

As his wound was being dressed, he turned violent. He initially stabbed the politician and a policeman, and then stabbed Dr Das multiple times. She succumbed to her injuries at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram where she was taken after the attack.

Related: ‘Making laws not enough, doctors should be protected real-time’

Many protests and an ordinance

After her murder, doctors and healthcare workers across the state boycotted work and organised protest marches and dharnas in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, and cities like Kollam, Kottayam, Kochi, and Kozhikode.

Following the furore in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened an emergency, high-level meeting and decided to issue the ordinance to amend the hospital protection law.

The ordinance to amend the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act of 2012 was introduced in the next Cabinet meeting.

On 23 May, 2023, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan signed the ordinance that provides for stringent punishment, including imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of ₹5 lakh, for those found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to those working in the health services sector in the state.

(With PTI inputs)