Kerala HC rejects plea for CBI probe into killing of Dr Vandana Das; junks bail plea of accused

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

The high court also dismissed the bail plea of the accused, citing the "heinous" nature of the crime committed by him, and said it could not ignore the prosecution's assertion that the accused would be a threat to society if released.

Pointing to the seriousness of the crime, Justice Bechu Kurian noted that the accused "sat beside her (victim) and continued to stab her, despite the hapless victim falling to the ground" Dr Das was a native of Kaduthuruthy area of Kottayam district and the only child of her parents. She was a house surgeon at Azeezia Medical College Hospital and was working at the Kottarakkara taluk hospital as part of her training.

The court also took note that the accused -- G Sandeep -- is known to have had a history of alcohol use disorder and is separated from his wife and children "as he had attempted to kill her in a fit of rage".

"He is stated to have an antisocial personality disorder, too. Additional Director General of Prosecution had submitted that steps are being taken to appoint a Special Public Prosecutor and also to have a speedy trial.

"Therefore undue delay in completing the trial also may not occur. Taking note of all the above circumstances, this is not a fit case where the petitioner can be released on bail. Hence this application for bail is dismissed," the court said.

Justice Thomas also rejected the plea moved by the doctor's parents seeking a CBI probe in the case.

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 by intercepting him midway to the hospital, while taking Dr Das for treatment.

The petition had also said that the police in order to "hide their security lapses" have been investigating the crime with a very "lackadaisical and apathetic approach." The court said that in cases where the police are under a scanner of doubt, and fingers are pointed at them, investigation can be entrusted to the CBI, "but 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," the court said.

"No serious flaws can 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.

Sandeep, a school teacher by profession, was brought to the taluk hospital by the police for medical treatment during the small hours of May 10, 2023 when he went on a sudden attacking spree using a pair of surgical scissors kept in the room where his leg injury was being dressed.

He had initially attacked the police officers and a private person who had accompanied him to the hospital and then turned on the young doctor who could not escape to safety.

She was stabbed several times and later succumbed to injuries in a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram where she was rushed following the attack.

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 the crime.

"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 court explained.

"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 added.

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

"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. PTI HMP HMP ANE