Should CBI probe Raja case?
The recent arrest of an IPS officer has raised many questions about how an IPS officer should be dealt with when he is faced with allegations of committing certain offences. Recently, Crime Investigation Department’s (CID) Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), N Rajamarthandan, who was the supervising officer of the special investigating team (SIT) constituted by the Assam government following the AASU office ransacking (at Silapathar ) incident, was arrested and sent to judicial custody after a few days of police remand. What was the crime or offence he had committed and how serious was the same? What was the information and to whom was it leaked? What are the sections under which he is booked? Should the Assam Police investigate the matter or should the CBI step in? G Plus checks out the matter.
Assam Police CID SSP N Rajamarthandan was arrested recently for allegedly revealing classified information. Earlier he was suspended on 4th April for allegedly revealing crucial investigation information in a reply to an RTI query. A highly placed source in the CID, talking to G Plus, said that the CID is not investigating but after finding that the SSP had revealed some information which could help the information acquirer in getting bail for the Silapathar incident mastermind Subodh Das and others, the department has filed a complaint with the Paltan Bazar police (Case number – 311/17 under section 120B/418/468/471 of IPC and section 98(a) of Assam, Police Act 2007, section 5(B) of Official Secret Act). The source said that in CID every decision is taken by discussing the issue with all the officials of the department. For example, if a decision has to be taken on a case, first the investigating officer (IO) will file his report which will be analysed by the cell in-charge who might differ from the IO’s view. The report then gets forwarded to the SSP, on to the DIG and then further to the ADGP. With the consent of all the officials, the decision is taken and accordingly the case is followed. The source said that in this case, Rajamarthandan did not take anyone’s view and provided the crucial information all by himself which could help the information acquirer in securing bail for the accused in the Silapathar case. The source said the SSP’s move was in violation of Official Secrets Act. Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay, talking to G Plus, said that the intention and the knowledge of the officer are questionable and this is known as “mens rea.” Sahay said that the details of a case under investigation cannot be disclosed to anyone whether through RTI or otherwise unless there are court orders. The SSP revealed some crucial information of the case without any orders. Now the question remains whether the SSP will get bail.
G Plus talked to Gauhtai High Court advocate Bibaswan Deka, defence lawyer of Rajamarthandan, who said, “I don’t know what his fate is but I will put all my efforts. I believe that my client Rajamarthandan is innocent and therefore I have taken up the case.” The lawyer said that in the conflict between RTI and Official Secrets Act, RTI will prevail. The lawyer said that the SSP is the head of the SIT and also the designated Public Information Officer of the CID, and if there is any understanding in any department about following protocol, it is not the law. According to the RTI Act, there are certain sections under which a responsible officer has to provide information accordingly. The lawyer said that the next hearing for bail is 18th April and he will try his best so that the SSP gets bail. Similarly, a close relative of the SSP, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that the SSP had a very good track record and had worked against the coal mafia in Meghalaya; the people of Meghalaya respect him for his work. Similarly, he had done decent work when he was posted in the CBI. The relative said that the officer is so honest that his children study in government schools whereas the children of other IPS and IAS officers are mostly seen studying in expensive international schools. So was the arrest of the IPS officer compulsory?
According to media reports, in a letter to Assam DGP, the IPS (Central) Association secretary PV Rama Sastry raised questions on the procedures followed during the arrest of Rajamarthandan and sought Sahay’s intervention in the case. “The complainant is a senior IPS officer of the state CID. As a senior officer of the premier investigating agency of the state has taken a position in the matter, principles of natural justice warrant that the investigation may be entrusted to the CBI, which will be in a position to take a dispassionate view,” the letter said, quoted the media. The association, in its letter to the DGP, said since the allegations against Rajamarthandan do not indicate corruption, moral turpitude or heinous offence, Section 41A could have served the purpose. Under Section 41A of the CrPC, police can issue a notice directing a person against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed a cognisable offence, to appear for examination. “His cadre officers shared with us that the accused officer holds a reputation of being honest and hard working,” the letter said, quoted the media report. Rajamarthandan is a 2006-batch IPS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre. Talking about CBI probe, former DGP GM Srivastava, talking to G Plus, said that the case should be handed over to the CBI which would bring clarity. He said that the SSP might have committed a serious offence and the people investigating the allegation are also trained police officers but for the clarity of the public if CBI probes the matter then no one will have a second doubt.
Another serving IPS officer who is also a member of IPS Association, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that there is no harm if CBI probes the matter. The IPS officer said that many factors should be looked at. If an organisation had a crowd of around 10,000 people meeting for a cause, the police intelligence should have been ready. He said once the speakers started delivering hate speeches the local police should have taken all measures with the help of the army to avoid an untoward situation but nothing of the sort happened and no one was stopped. The IPS officer questioned that while many senior officials visited the place after the incident did they at all check the FIR copy sincerely? He said only a CBI probe could clarify whose fault it was and will also bring out mistakes if there were any by the Assam Police. So whether the CID SSP is right or wrong, a CBI probe looks set to be a genuine and neutral probe. But the same depends on the state police and the government’s decision of handing over the case to the central investigating agency. If it is not, many questions will keep cropping up.
• On 4th April, CID SSP N Rajamarthandan was suspended for allegedly leaking crucial information on the Silapathar case
• SSP N Rajamarthandan was arrested on 7th April for allegedly revealing classified information
• The SSP was sent to police remand and further forwarded to judicial custody
• CID filed a complaint with the Paltan Bazar police (Case number – 311/17 under section 120B/418/468/471 of IPC and section 98(a) of Assam, Police Act 2007, section 5(B) of Official Secret Act)
• The defence lawyer of the IPS officer said that Rajamarthandan was a designated public information officer
• The lawyer said that in a conflict between RTI and Official Secrets Act, RTI will prevail
• A relative close to the SSP said that he is an honest officer to the extent that his children study in a government school
• According to the relative the SSP had a decent track record and the Meghalaya public respect him for his actions against the coal mafia there
• Assam DGP said the intention and the knowledge of the officer is questionable. This is known as “mens rea”
• The DGP said that the details of a case under investigation cannot be disclosed to anyone whether through RTI or otherwise unless there are court orders
• Meanwhile, IPS Association asked the DGP to let the CBI probe the case
• A former Assam DGP believes a CBI probe will clarify all facts
• Another serving IPS officer said a CBI probe is necessary which would bring out mistakes if the Assam police had committed any