Today the Supreme Court of India refused to remove the name of activist and Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar from the FIR filed in a murder case. The court also asked the Chattisgarh government to submit the status of the investigation against activist and others in the case. The activist had filed a plea in the Supreme Court requesting to remove her name from the FIR, alleging that government is sitting on the case and the investigation is not progressing.
In 2016, Nandini and Sundar and some other activists along with Maoists were booked on the charge of murder of a tribal person in Sukma district in Chhatisgarh. On 4th November 2016, Naxal terrorists had killed Shamnath Baghel, who was leading protests against the Naxals. Before his murder, Baghel had lodged a complaint with police against Nandini Sundar, JNU Professor Archana Prasad and some other persons for allegedly inciting innocent tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists.
After the murder of Baghel, his wife had complained that Sundar and others went to the village after Baghel’s complaint and threatened the villagers not to oppose the Maoists. Nandini Sundar had used the fake name Richa Keshav while going to the village. Baghel’s wife also stated that he was receiving threats from Maoists since he had complained against Nandini and others, saying they will punish Baghel if do not listen to Nandini and others.
After this development, Chhatisgarh police had named Nandini Sundar and others in the FIR filed in the murder case of Shamnath Baghel. Nandini Sundar had filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking to remove her name for FIR in the case. She alleged in the court that the government has done nothing in the case against her in past two years. She said police have not questioned her even once in these two years.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Chhatisgarh government, said police have made progress in the case and recorded statements of several persons. He opposed the plea of Nandini, saying progress has been made in the case.
To this, the court asked the government to file a reply within 3 weeks. The state government was asked to file an affidavit explaining why no action was taken in last two weeks, and what steps are planned in immediate future.
But the court refused to accept the plea at this moment, saying “eliminating names from the FIR virtually means quashing of FIR and FIR cannot be quashed exparte without hearing the other side”.
The bench was highly critical of Chhatisgarh government for the delay in the probe. The court said that government “cannot keep the sword of FIR pending against anyone for indefinite period”, asking them to file a report on the same.
Nandini Sundar and others have been booked under section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 and 149 of IPC in the murder case.