Kerala HC says CBI probe into violinist Balabhaskar’s death not foolproof, orders further investigation

The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the CBI to further probe the death of popular violinist and musician Balabhaskar Chandran, who allegedly succumbed to injuries suffered in a road accident, saying the agency’s investigation into the matter “has not been foolproof”.

The high court directed the agency to find out whether there was any conspiracy or connection between alleged gold smuggling, the road accident in September 2018 and the consequent death of the violinist.

The violinist’s daughter had died on the spot and his wife and driver escaped with injuries.

“The further investigation so directed shall be completed as expeditiously as possible, and preferably within three months from today,” Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas ordered.

The court gave the order as it felt that the investigation by the CBI “has not been penetrating and the final report has still left several loose ends and many stones unturned”.

“The astuteness of an expert investigating agency ought to be reflected in leaving no stone unturned during the probe. An inconsistency or a discrepancy, insignificant to the outside world, can, at times, be the lead for unravelling the mysteries of covert actions. To achieve this, a deep and pervasive investigation is required.

“When it is felt that the investigation conducted has not been penetrating, and the final report has still left several loose ends and many stones unturned, the imprimatur (approval by the concerned authority) of a comprehensive investigation cannot be accorded by the court,” it said.

The order came on pleas filed by the violinist’s parents and a witness in the case seeking further investigation into the matter, after the agency concluded that the musician had died due to a road accident.

Their pleas were rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in July last year, following which they moved the Kerala High Court.

The witness had claimed that he saw some persons attacking the vehicle of Balabhaskar at a fuel outlet prior to the alleged accident and also saw those individuals standing near the car after the mishap.

The CBI had claimed that it had carried out an exhaustive probe and concluded it to be a road traffic accident.

It had claimed that the doubts expressed by the parents had also been probed into, and hence no case was made out for any further investigation.

Referring to the request for further investigation by the witness Soby George, the CBI had alleged that he was misleading the investigating agency and proceedings have been initiated against him for giving false evidence.

The court was of the view that an expert investigating agency like the CBI ought to have probed and verified even the slightest doubt.

“Surprisingly, such an exercise was not seen to be carried out by the CBI. The investigating agency has accepted the statements of the witnesses — who could be under a scanner of doubt and against whom suspicions were raised by the parents of the deceased — as gospel truth, without confronting them with the materials collected,” it said.

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The court pointed out that the CBI discarded the submissions of George as he was involved in 20 criminal cases — all based on failure to honour cheques and not serious offences — whereas the agency accepted submissions by other witnesses who were allegedly involved in serious offences like gold smuggling and ATM thefts.

In fact, two missing phones of the violinist were recovered from the home of one of the witnesses allegedly involved in gold smuggling, during a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) raid, the court noted.

The court then set aside the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s July 2022 orders denying the requests by George and the parents of the violinist seeking a further probe.

“.. the Investigating Officer is directed to investigate the said crime further, especially to identify whether there was any conspiracy or connection between the activities of gold smuggling and the accident on September 25, 2018 and the consequent death of Balabhaskar,” the court said.

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