It was nearly 3 am in the morning when I g0t a phone call from the Police Control Room. A mutilated body of a lady after being run over by a late night train was reported at the Bhilwara Railway Station.
The police were already on the spot when I reached the railway station in about 20 minutes. By then the identity of the woman had been ascertained. (I cannot disclose her name as I am still investigating the matter). The woman was in her early 30s and was married for not more than 7 years. The circumstances of the case made it fit to be investigated under Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code for unnatural deaths.
The body was soon shifted to the morgue and as the City magistrate, my investigations began.
By 10 am in the morning, the most contradictory accounts started to emerge about the death of the lady. The people representing the parental side of the lady alleged murder. They reported that the lady had been facing emotional and physical torture for quite sometime from her in-laws and it might be very possible that they murdered her and threw her body on the railway track to be hit by a train as a cover up.
While, the the lady’s in-laws showed disbelief how such a thing could have happened in the first place and reported that their family life was running peacefully. They even brought their tenants to vouch for the fact that their family was a happy one. They argued that the whole family was sleeping while this incident happened and that most probably the lady had committed suicide.
While I was recording the statements of all the above parties, simultaneously a post mortem of the dead body was being undertaken by a medical board constituted by me.
I had hoped that with the post mortem report, I would be able to confirm the circumstances of her death. The report would reveal whether the lady had already died before she was run over by the train (Murder?) or whether she died from being run over by the train (Suicide?).
Meanwhile, a crucial piece of evidence was brought to my notice. The Station Memo Diary revealed that the driver of the train had reported to the Station Master that a body was lying on the railway track motionless which could be the dead body of a person or animal. He also mentioned that due to poor visibility he could not properly identify it exactly.
Ah! So was it a murder then? A body lying on the railway track, motionless! It all seemed so Bollywood like. If the post mortem report could also corroborate the same! I would then transfer this case to the Police under the relevant murder sections and Law could then take its course!
But then, here came the twist. The post mortem report arrived and sung a different tune. It reported that death was indeed caused by her collision with the train. So now, no murder? Did she commit suicide by lying on the tracks waiting to be run over by the train? And if she did commit suicide then was it because she was being tortured by her in-laws? And how did she manage to be so motionless that the driver of the train, prima facie, thought it to be a dead body?
With contradictory pieces of evidence and body already cremated, stands this 25 year old magistrate trying to solve the mystery of whether there was a murder on the railway tracks of the sleepy town of Bhilwara.
The very title that I’ve given to this write-up is eyebrow raising. But in my current place of work there have been some very ridiculous incidents surrounding RTI applications. Who would have thought that this has become an instrument to settle scores and ego battles with officers, especially by those who love to play mischief?
When I had just started working, I was advised by all officers in the district, from the very top to the lowest rung, even by peons that, "Ma'am, please be very careful of RTI Activists! They have a lot of influence in the whole Collectorate!" "When they come to call on you, please be sure to serve them tea in your best tea set!"
To which, I answered with a very surprised expression on my face, "But I do not see much point in serving a cup of tea to people I am not well acquainted with and on top of that I do not think my office is a cafeteria where anyone can come up for a cup of tea!"
They all sighed with exasperation and looked at me if I was crazy and exclaimed, " Ma'am, you do not understand! You are new! These guys do not even spare the Collectors! The last two Collectors were troubled by RTIs filed on frivolous issues such as whereabouts of the shop from where the Collector bought his clothes, photocopies of the Collector's Personal Diary, and information about where the Collector spent his free evenings. And all of this simply because the Collectors did not entertain these guys as much as they would have liked and dismissed them.”
Later when I found out more on my own about the above incidents, it was indeed confirmed that these RTIs were indeed filed and were dismissed by the officers on grounds that they had no bearing on public interest. But yes, it can be indeed frustrating for the officer if he/she gets RTIs on such trivial and thoroughly personal issues. These mischief makers probably file such RTIs just to have a laugh on seeing officers and their staff running askew to answer the RTI within the stipulated time frame.
While dismissing RTIs of a frivolous nature which have no bearing on public interest is always in our hands but how to dismiss the frustration and dismay that comes over when people try to play mischief?
Well, I will keep you all posted about the latest developments on this count as I have still not entertained those guys for a cup of tea!
Post Coming soon.
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