Duty of the police to question the woman in case of assault on the scene: jurists

MUMBAI: The police have a duty and obligation to investigate and interrogate actor Karan Oberoi ’s accuser when she is now accused of planning her own assault, said legal experts on Tuesday, expressing surprise that the police plan to just add her name to the chargesheet soon.

“How can it be a complete investigation unless police question her?” said crime counsel Niteen Pradhan when asked what the legal position mandates. He added, “Police have a duty to investigate and, as their prerogative, question and arrest.”

Pradhan agreed that there is a solid case against his arrest. In general, arrest and custody are mandatory when a defendant runs away or tampers with evidence or witnesses.

The woman, an astrologer and as her own lawyer calls her, also a black magician, is being accused of conspiring to fabricate evidence of having been pressured to withdraw her first case of violation against the actor Karan Oberoi . “If the allegations against her are true, they cast doubt on her violation allegations,” Pradhan said.

“Her action of being an alleged conspirator in creating the crime for the second FIR cannot be viewed in isolation but based on the allegations in it, could be linked to her first FIR and viewed as tampering with evidence. And it may also be providing a motive which would go to the root of the first FIR. As a natural corollary, police need to treat the allegation against her seriously and investigate thoroughly as the motive behind the first FIR and its contents would then come under the lens,” he added.

If police do not investigate allegations against her by not even summoning her for questioning, it may form good grounds for a legal challenge by the actor, said lawyers.

The woman’s lawyer Ali Kaashif Khan surrendered on Monday after four men arrested initially for the May 25 attack named him as the planner. Before his release on bail, the lawyer accused her of “confessing” to him at the police station of hatching the conspiracy by “approaching” his nephew “without my knowledge.” He also claimed she did “black magic,” a submission he had tried to brush off when it was made by the actor’s lawyer Dinesh Tiwari during his unsuccessful bail hearing before a sessions judge last month. Oberoi, the son of an army officer, is meanwhile still in Taloja jail.

Pradhan said, “Once given details of a crime, police should as a natural corollary investigate. They ought to have called her for questioning and in a case where twists have been alleged to create evidence, they can immediately arrest to ensure no further developments unravel. Unless police act, they are playing with the liberty of a person.”

According to Pradhan, “It would be unheard of if police file a chargesheet without confronting the accused with the material collected. This is a strange way of investigation which would amount to being a half-hearted exercise and even exoneration of the accused.”

Amit Desai, senior counsel, also said police have a duty to investigate the turn of events and probe veracity of the allegations against her.

Los expertos legales dijeron que los teléfonos de la mujer también deben tomarse y enviarse para el análisis forense, tanto para el primer y segundo FIR. Esto supone una urgencia, ya que ahora la han culpado, dijo un abogado. En las sesiones de la corte, sus abogados, Sheetal Pandya y Khan, habían confiado en las comunicaciones de texto entre ella y Oberoi, quienes dijeron que la suya era una relación consensual que había terminado con él sin haber prometido matrimonio ni compromiso. Khan tuvo sesiones en la corte, mostró sus dos teléfonos y leyó mensajes de texto para oponerse a la declaración de libertad bajo fianza de Oberoi. La police había tomado el teléfono y la computadora de Oberoi, pero no sus teléfonos para investigar.

Oberoi’s lawyer Dinesh Tiwari said, “With so much material that police already have against her, why are they not proceeding to question or arrest her? In most other cases with far less material, they spring to action.”