Shillong: A division bench of the Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday ordered the discontinuation of the trial pertaining to the unnatural death of a police sub-inspector in 2015 after the investigation did not appear to be satisfactory.
“Even though the State says that the trial is proceeding, it does not appear that the investigation was satisfactory. Accordingly, let the trial not be continued till further orders,” the High Court said.
It may be mentioned that Sub-Inspector P.J. Marbaniang allegedly committed suicide on the night of January 24, 2015 at his residential quarters at Patharkhmah in Ri Bhoi district.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Vivek Syiem was formed and some arrests were made, and hitherto, the trial was ongoing.
Marbaniang’s mother, Dorothy Marbaniang, now deceased, had approached the High Court seeking a thorough investigation into her son’s unnatural death. The petition was disposed of by an order of March 22, 2016.
However, Marbaniang’s mother moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe and on May 8, 2023 the Apex court passed an order with a mandate to the High Court to dispose of the writ petition afresh upon considering whether the investigation ought to be handed over to some other agency.
A day prior to his death, Marbaniang had detained about 32 trucks at Patharkhmah for illegal transportation of coal.
Meanwhile, the High Court on Wednesday pointed out that the report of the SIT revealed “what had been suspected by this Court” in the matters pertaining to illegal coal mining.
“The SIT report indicates the existence of registers with fixed rates per truck for allowing illegal transportation of illegally-mined coal, illegally-felled timber and illegally-extracted boulders.
There are names and officials have been identified in some cases,” it said.
The High Court further noted that the report of the SIT is disturbing on both counts, first in how it revealed the rampant and structured illegal coal-mining operations, and the transportation of the mineral; and, how the SIT arrived at a conclusion despite the evidence that was available.
The High Court has appointed Additional Advocate-General, K Khan, to assist the Court in the matter. It hoped that Khan’s allegiance to his office will not stand in the way of fair and independent assistance being rendered to the Court.
The SIT report and the trial court papers that have been produced will be kept in the custody of the officer attached to this Court. Such papers may only be released to the members of the Bench and to Khan for perusal.
The matter will appear on July 27, 2023.