Dr Chag suicide: Gujarat HC asks probe officer to engage private lawyer – The Indian Express

The Gujarat High Court Tuesday directed the investigating officer in the case of alleged suicide of Dr Atul Chag to engage a private lawyer instead of being represented by the state’s public prosecutor. The court was hearing a petition moved by Dr Chag’s son Hitarth Chag seeking initiation of civil contempt proceedings against police personnel for failing to register an FIR over the case.
While the government employees and officers in contempt proceedings are defended by government law officers at the expense of the government, the court in particular cases can direct that they should not be represented by government lawyers, for potential conflict of interest that may arise later.
Among those made respondent parties in the petition are Veraval police inspector Sunil Ishrani, who is the investigating officer (IO) in the case, Deputy Superintendent of Police at Veraval VR Khengar, Superintendent of Police at Gir Somnath Manoharsinh Jadeja and DIG Mayanksinh Chavda. The HC has issued notice to the respondents on March 15 and had kept it returnable for March 28.
While the respondents have not filed their replies, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin apprised the court of the IO’s findings and investigation so far, which has prima facie concluded that “no cognisable offence” is made out under IPC section 306 (abetment of suicide).
Dr Chag, who had a hospital in Veraval town, was found hanging at his residence on February 12.
A purported suicide note was recovered from his residence, in which he had blamed BJP MP from Junagadh Rajesh Chudasama and his father Naran Chudasama for allegedly compelling him to take the extreme step.
On February 17, Hitarth had filed a complaint with the Veraval police station, stating that his father died by suicide as as Rajesh and Naran had not been returning about Rs 1.75 crore, which Dr Chag had lent them in 2008, and threatening him of “dire consequences” if he demanded the money back.
A case of accidental death was registered and a preliminary inquiry was instituted, although till date no FIR has been registered. Amin submitted before the bench of Justices Ashutosh Shastri and JC Doshi Tuesday that the IO had examined “around 20-25 persons of the hospital, including three doctors,” Dr Chag’s accountant and chartered accountant, a doctor from Ahmedabad Janak Patel, all of whom denied being aware of monetary transactions between Dr Chag and the Chudasamas.
Amin submitted that statements were also recorded of four depositories after it was found that Dr Chag was involved in transactions in the stock market. “They clearly state that in preceding proximate time, the deceased had share market/stock exchange transactions with them which incurred loss to him to an extent of Rs 2.5 crore. The deceased had incurred loss in stock exchange of about Rs 3 crore,” said Amin.
It was submitted that Rajesh Chudasama was interrogated who stated that he had not entered into any monetary transactions, and that one cheque of November 2021 given by MP’s father Naranbhai in favour of Dr Chag of Rs 90 lakh which was dishonoured, was subsequently settled, according to Naranbhai.
Amin also informed the court that the IO collected the DVDs of CCTV footage of preceding seven days of the hospital where Dr Chag died and that no picture has been found in the footage, of either Naranbhai or Rajeshbhai.
Amin submitted that the IO’s report has drawn a preliminary conclusion that no offence under IPC section 306 is made out.
Meanwhile, senior advocate Yogesh Lakhani appearing for Hitarth, submitted that the police is obliged either to register the FIR or if it is found that preliminary inquiry is necessary, they are supposed to take a decision in this regard within seven days. Lakhani pointed out that the IO had not recorded Hitarth’s statement, or that of other family members of Dr Chag, or of one of the medical officers Dr Jalpan Rupapara, who had made a public statement that he knew of the transactions and the reasons behind Dr Chag’s suicide.
The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on April 11.
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