Even as the maximum police remand tenure is 15-days, it seems Odisha police have completed its criminal investigation in the Mamita Meher murder cases in just 5-days time, though with due cooperation of the prime accused Gobinda Sahu.
As per DIG's press conference today, the police have conducted the criminal investigation based on oral, technical and forensic evidence. And only 2 persons are involved in the murder - Gobinda Sahu and Radhe. The motive is purely personal, he informed.
"The oral statement of Gobinda Sahu, along with the corroboration during crime scene reconstruction, and seizure of a charred body and personal jewellery items, bag of the victim ( identified by victim's family) from the crime spot is our basis of investigation. We are waiting for the scientific reports," said DIG Deepak Kumar.
Meanwhile, as per police records, the sections slapped on Gobinda Sahu are the following.
- Section 120 IPC (Concealing Design to Commit Offence). This section entails punishment of imprisonment for at least 4 years.
- Section 201 IPC (Causing Disappearance of Evidence). The punishment mandated here is a maximum of 10 years.
- Section 302 IPC ( Homicide or Murder) (Since the police are not claiming it a rarest of rare case. Therefore, punishment is life imprisonment. As per legal experts, life imprisonment could be for 14 years, 20 years or until death)
- Section 366 IPC (Kidnapping, Abducting or Inducing Women to Compel her Marriage)
A look at the sections charged by police gives a new twist to the extra-marital angle motive in the Mamita murder case.
What Does Section 366 Hint?
As per reports, Gobinda Sahu is a married person having 3 daughters and one son. Before the police, he said as Mamita had threatened me to expose my extra-marital affairs, fearing the expose, I killed her.
But Section 366 hints big. The IPC section clearly states that whoever kidnaps/abducts any woman with the intent that she may be compelled or knowing that she will be compelled, to either get her married or forced/seduced to have illicit intercourse they shall be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years.
The slapping of the section begs more questions from the Odisha police.
Will Odisha Police Prove This In Court Of Law?
As per legal experts, the case diary, in this case, looks very neat. And the prime accused Gobinda Sahu had delivered evidence to the Odisha police, what he wanted.
For Odisha police, with no independent witness/evidence as of date, proving the section in the court will be an Achilles hill.
As per Bolangir Police, the CCTV footage of the fateful day shows that Mamita was with Gobinda in good spirits. Both went shopping, temple etc. What the police don't have is the CCTV footage of strangulation.
As per an SC judgement, the onus will be on the prosecution to prove the applicability of the section on the accused. The observation in the SC order is detailed below.
"The aforesaid section requires the prosecution not only to lead evidence to prove kidnapping, but also requires them to lead evidence to portray the abovementioned specific intention of the kidnapper. Therefore, in order to constitute an offence under section 366, the prosecution has to show evidence that kidnapping/abduction was done in furtherance of intent to compel the victim to marry against her will."
Does Odisha Police Have Evidence?
As per the press statements of the Bolangir Police and DIG Deepak Kumar, the oral statement of prime accused Gobinda Sahu and the technical evidence of CCTV footage seem to be not in sync with the charge slapped.
The statement of the key accused to police only talks about an 'expose' threat of his extra-marital affairs. And the CCTV footage doesn't suggest kidnapping or abducting and compelling her to marriage. The victim purportedly seen in good spirits in CCTV footage will go against the Odisha police, feel legal experts.
The Last Mile
Unless Odisha police stumble on some independent evidence to corroborate section 366 before filing the charge sheet, it will be hard for the prosecution to defend its charge sheet.