Manju Pandey’s son was ‘shot dead’ by a Delhi Police inspector in 2013. With a court now ordering an FIR, she says her fight has just begun.
New Delhi: Carrying a bundle of documents, she paces to the registry inside the Patiala House Court complex in New Delhi. There she quickly drafts an application, signs it, gets it attested and photocopied before submitting it.
Her next destination — the Delhi High Court, for yet another application.
For five years, Manju Pandey, 45, has traversed the court complexes in Delhi, seeking justice for her son Karan Pandey,19, who was killed by a police bullet in July 2013.
In the process, the homemaker, who said she had never stepped into a government office until then, has transformed into a veteran at navigating legal paperwork.
On Monday, her sustained efforts resulted in a major breakthrough: A district court directed the Delhi Police to register a case against inspector Rajnish Parmar, who had allegedly opened fire at Karan and his friends, part of a group of bikers allegedly performing stunts in the high-security Central Delhi area.
A bullet allegedly hit Karan, who was riding pillion on one of the bikes, and killed him.
“That night of 28 July 2013 changed my life forever,” Manju said. “Earlier I had never seen a government office in my life. Never looked at a legal paper but now I know everything. I know how an application is drafted, where the registry is, how to get the documents attested, where to file a plea, how to file an RTI.”
The court complex, she said, has become a familiar part of her life. “Halaat sabkuch sikha dete hain (circumstances teach you everything),” she added.
Manju was a single mother and Karan, her only son. She now lives alone at her house in Malviya Nagar, relying on rent from a property she owns in Uttam Nagar.
“There have been moments when I have broken down, felt helpless, cried to sleep — all shattered. But what gives me strength is the photograph of my only son that I have placed in my room,” she said. “I cannot let him down. I look at his photo and get up again. I will fight it to the last.”
Years of letters, appeals, and RTIs
For years, Manju said, she had shot off several letters to Delhi police commissioners, the home secretary, the National Human Rights Commission and the Lieutenant Governor to get an FIR registered against inspector Parmar.
She said that on some days, she would do the rounds of the Delhi Police headquarters, the Patiala court complex and the local police station only to return empty-handed.
“At first, they (Delhi Police) showed some sympathy and would tell me that I would get justice. Later, when the media stopped covering the case, they began shooing me away,” Manju said.
“A top police official told me with a straight face that no action would be taken against the inspector and that I should not waste my time,” she added. “I was told that I have been given a compensation of Rs 50 lakh and that I should be satisfied.”
The alleged police “inaction” forced her to start collecting evidence against Parmar on her own. She said she filed several RTIs to access the inspector’s service record, filed applications in court to get details of the inquiries against him and even asked the police to provide her details of the evidence in the case, including the CCTV footage.
“When even the NHRC did not help, I decided to put in applications to expose the inspector. I started reading up on how to file RTIs and then with some help, put applications to access his past record,” she said. “I found him to be involved in two cases and then even wrote to the vigilance commission,” she alleged.
“I had no idea that a department like this even existed.”
Manju said she has never missed a court hearing in the matter. “My lawyer used to come to represent my case but then he stopped,” she said. “After that, I started going myself and began presenting facts before the judge. I am so thorough with the case files that I can fight it on my own now.”
Delhi Police said that it was now looking into the matter.
“We carried out a departmental inquiry against our officer and a detailed report was submitted. With this fresh order, we are looking into the matter and will take action accordingly,” said a senior police officer.
The departmental inquiry had given Parmar a clean chit.
Two differing inquiries and a scathing court order
Pandey’s death had hit headlines in 2013. There were several inquiries including a magisterial probe, an inquiry by NHRC and a departmental inquiry.
While the magisterial probe held the inspector guilty, the departmental inquiry gave him a clean chit.
In a scathing order to the Delhi Police, the court Monday said that it was “appalled” to note that no case was registered against the officer. “Here, the entire machinery is directed towards showing that the complainant is not at fault. In the process five precious years were wasted,” the court said.
“Relieved at the order”, Manju said that she now wants the inspector jailed. “The man who killed my son is still serving as a policeman. Let alone registering a case, he was not even suspended for a day or sent to district lines, while the inquiry was on,” she said.
“I just want him behind bars and that is the day I will be able to sit in peace. This has now become the sole motive of my life.”
The court has also directed the police to file a detailed report in the matter within three weeks. “If the Delhi Police act on the court’s orders and register a case, then fine, else I am already prepared to move the high court. My application is ready,” Manju said.