Manav Lalwani’s family moved Sessions Court after Kurla Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court refused to give the order; they suspect his woman friend was behind his step
Manav Lalwani hanged himself on the terrace of his home in Deonar
Over a year after his death, the Deonar-based family of 24-year-old Manav Lalwani has a ray of hope in his case, as the Sessions Court has directed the Mumbai police to register an FIR in his suicide. His family had alleged that his woman friend had abetted the suicide. They had written several times to the police seeking an FIR. After the Kurla Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court refused to give an order, the family approached the Sessions court.
On December 2, 2021, Manav hanged himself on the terrace of his residence in Deonar. He had had dinner with his friend Mahima Thakur before this. The Trombay police had filed an Accidental Death Report (ADR) in connection with the incident. Manav’s father Prakash Lalwani had written an application to the then Mumbai police commissioner seeking an FIR.
Lalwani had also filed an application in the Kurla Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court seeking direction to the Trombay police to register a FIR. But the metropolitan magistrate had opined that no investigation was necessary, and asked Lalwani to produce more evidence in support of his complaint.
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The Lalwani family alleged that Thakur deleted WhatsApp chats between her and Manav, and it is impossible for them to retrieve them and collect necessary evidence. A criminal revision application was filed before the Sessions Court requesting the impugned order by the metropolitan magistrate’s court be set aside and directing Trombay police to register an FIR under IPC Section 306 (abetment to suicide).
The police resisted the revision application on the grounds that they had recorded the statement of the complainant (Manav’s father) after the incident, and then he had not suspected anyone. Secondly, they had seized Thakur’s mobile phone, and also took screenshots of the last chat. Thakur had made a statement that Manav had made some unwelcome physical advances, and when she resisted, there was a quarrel between them.
Advocate Wajeed Sheikh appeared for the state while advocate Khan Abdul Wahab for applicant Prakash Lalwani, and advocate Ashok Singh for respondents Thakur and her father Pravin Thakur.
Additional Sessions Judge
A V Kharkar said that the observations of the magistrate were erroneous. “Once a report is made to the police alleging the commission of cognisable offence, it’s their duty to register an FIR and carry out the investigation. The allegations made by the applicant prima facie pertain to allegations of an offence under IPC Section 306, which is a cognisable offence triable by a court of sessions,” he said.
The court also observed that if allegations have been made that WhatsApp chats were deleted, the same has to be retrieved, forensic and other evidence will have to be collected. The investigation by the police machinery will be imperative.
Additional Sessions Judge Kharkar ordered a senior inspector of Trombay police station to register an offence on the basis of the complaint made by Lalwani, on February 23, 2022. The order was pronounced on January 19, 2023.
Lalwani, father of the deceased, only said the family is in no position to comment on the order, but will speak once the FIR is registered.
“The Sessions Court order is not legal as the court doesn’t have any jurisdiction to pass such orders. There are Supreme Court and high court judgments which establish the Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s power to seek evidence from the complainant. The complainant directly went to Sessions Court for revision of application. We have gone to the HC challenging the order,” said advocate Singh, for Thakurs.
“The Sessions Court stayed the order of registration of FIR till February 2. We will take action according to the law after the stay is over,” said Senior Inspector Ravindra Ranshevare.
Day in 2021 when Manav Lalwani hanged himself