Murder Case: Surupa Guha w/o – Indranath Guha(ex-Principal of South Point School and Friend of Aparna Sen)-1976

4th May 1976

Death Certificate:  Surupa Guha died on 4-5-1977 at about 11-30 P.M Night. Death certificate granted by the SSKM hospital showed that Surupa’s death was due to Cardiorespiratory failure due to unknown poisoning.

Sukumar Naik and Subodh Das were the laboratory staff of the science department of South Point School. They were called by CID Police Lal Bazar. On interrogation, they stated that the  South Point School lab had Mercuric Chloride and it was accessible to Indra along with chemistry teacher.

The case: Indra Nath Guha was accused in sessions trial no. 2 (1) /1978 which was pending before Shri R. Mahapatra, additional sessions judge, 6th court, Alipore.

Prosecution case

Complainant: Ramendra Mohan Mukherjee(Father)

Police action(CID): Indra Nath, his parents Satikanta and Pritilata as well as two other persons, named Ramendra Nath Lahiri and Jhantu Charan Dutta were arrested. They were, however, subsequently released on bail.

After CID investigation police submitted a charge sheet against Indranath and the four others on July 10, 1976, under section 120B/328/201 IPC.

The sessions judge Shri A. P. Bhattacharyya, additional sessions judge, 11th court, Alipore, however, by order dated the 3rd June 1977 framed charges against Indranath, Satikanta, and Pritilata under sections 120b/302/109/201 IPC. He also framed charge under sections 120b/302/201 IPC against the accused Jhatu Charan Dutta. The learned Additional Sessions Judge on consideration of the materials on record found no sufficient ground for proceeding against Ramendranath Lahiri a driver of Indra and discharged him Under Section 227 of the Cr. P. C.

Calcutta High Court (R. Bhattacharyya, J. And R. K. Sharma, J) by an Order delivered on the 25th of July 1977 in a Revision, quashed charges against Satikanta Guha and Pritilata Guha framed by Session Judge.

TRIAL TRANSFER: The High Court transferred the case to Additional District and Sessions Judge Ranabir Mahapatra(6th Court, Alipore) Read the Order.

Ballygunge P. S. (sec. S) case no. 188/1976

Surupa Guha(28) a Rajabajar Science College (Chemistry) student was married to the accused Indranath Guha in 1966. After about a year of the marriage, there had been continued ill-treatment towards Surupa from her husband Indranath(Principal-Secretary of South Point High School), her father-in-law Satikanta Guha(died on January 8, 1991) and her mother-in-law Pritilata Guha(Trustee of the South Point Education Society) and such ill-treatment at times became unbearable to her.

On 4-5-1976 at about 10 or 10.15 AM Surupa came back home at 10, Hindusthan Road, Calcutta from the Science College Laboratory(she was there at night) where she used to go for her research work. Thereafter she was given breakfast viz., cucumber and lassi by the servant of her house Jhantu, one accused. She took the food and within 20 minutes she started vomiting and became seriously unwell.

At about 11 AM(Morning) the family physician came and as the condition of the patient was precarious, he advised for her immediate hospitalisation. At about 11-30 AM the patient was admitted to the S. S. K. M. Hospital ( P. G. Hospital). The patient was at once taken charge of and her treatment started. Before the doctors, she stated at their request that she did not take any poison but took only cucumber and lassi.

At about 1PM(Afternoon), Ramendra Mohan Mukherjee, the father of Surupa got a telephonic message that his daughter had become very sick and had been removed to the hospital. Parents and relatives of Surupa came to the hospital. Parents-in-law of Surupa, Indranath, Jhantu, and others also came. Satikanta produced one bottle of Horlicks at the hospital and wanted to get it examined at the hospital.

Indranath visited(by his own) the Science College Laboratory for ascertaining if poison was there and got information that Mercuric Chloride Solution was there. He also took the bedsheets and the wearing apparels of Surupa from the hospital to his house(by his own). These clothing contained the matters vomited by Surupa. At night Indranath informed the Ballygunge Police Station that his wife, as he apprehended, might have by mistake taken some deleterious substance at the Science College or at home. The patient, however, died at the hospital on 4-5-1977 at about 11-30 P.M.

The death certificate granted by the hospital showed that Surupa’s death wag due to cardiorespiratory failure due to unknown poisoning. Next morning Ramendra Mohan Mukherji, the father of the deceased lodged a written complaint with Officer-in-charge of the Ballygunge Police Station for an investigation into the case as he felt, considering the bad attitude of the mother-in-law and husband of Surupa, that “some kind of poison was mixed either in the cucumber or in the lassi” offered to his daughter.

The police after investigation submitted charge sheet against Indra, his parents and Ors and one Ramendranath Lahiri Under Sections 120-B, 328 and 201, I. P. C. The Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate, Alipore committed the said accused persons to the Court of Session Under Section 209 of the new Cr. P. C. for trial. The case was transferred to the learned 11th Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore for disposal. The learned Additional Sessions Judge on consideration of the materials on record found no sufficient ground for proceeding against Ramendranath Lahiri and discharged him Under Section 227 of the Cr. P. C. He framed Charge against the accused U/S 120b/302/109/201of IPC. Some unknown reason he never continued with the Trial as the case was transferred from him to Judge Mahapatra as stated above.

Surupa`s statement before Death: “I did not take any poison by my own and that I had taken only cucumber and lassi at my house at Hindusthan Park as breakfast after coming from college;”

Defense to the Surupas statement: “in the hospital premises the petitioner’s(Indra) father Satikanta Guha pointed to a bottle of Horlicks held by Mrs. Vincent (an employee of the south point school) and told the complainant(Surupa`s father) and his brother that only Horlicks from that bottle was offered to Surupa during her breakfast; that the statement of Satikanta did not fit in with the dying statement of Surupa that she took cucumber and lassi.


Media Speculation: Actress Aparna Sen was very close to Indranath Guha. Her husband Sanjoy ended up taking his own life.  Lal Bazar Detective Department had interrogated Aparna in connection with the Surupa Guha case. Rumour was rampant in the media that Surupa threatened Indra to disclose his illicit relationship with Aparna and to expose his ‘Educated’ family to the world. Chief minister Siddhartha Sankar Roy assured for fare investigation.


Postscript

Mr. Satikanta Guha(then 65) the winner of the Rabindra Prize, is a  brilliant man who has created one of Calcutta’s largest schools(1954) purely through his genius.  His family belongs to “Calcutta’s life known as high society”. Satikanta died in 1991 and his wife died in 2005. His school was taken over by Birla Group. Surupa had a daughter Haimanti, we do not know anything about her. as reported in Dainik Basumati, Satikanta desired that his son should marry Aparna Sen. After coming out of the Jail Indra married a teacher of South Point School and both run Garden High School in Kolkata.


Trial: 

Amiya Mukherjee the mother of Surupa, who was P. W. 4,  stated in her evidence that Surupa, “objected, to the disagreement between her and indranath. Surupa said to the witness(Amiya) that Indranath used to come back daily in a drunken condition and oppress Surupa (atyachar korto).

Q. 46. What kind of married life did Surupa have? A. Initially, it was a happy married life.

Q. 47. By saying ‘initially’ what did you mean to say? A. By ‘initially’ meant ‘after marriage’.

Q. 48. What happened thereafter? A. Thereafter the nature of Indranath did not agree with the nature of Dola.

Q. 49. Did Surupa put up with this disagreement or did she object? (objected to). A. She objected.

Q. 50. What was the objection? (objected to). A. He used to come back daily in drunken condition to oppress her (attachyar karto). (objected to). (objection is raised on behalf of the accused Indranath u/s. 54 of Indian evidence act).

Q. 51. For how long did it continue? A. Till the last day of Surupa’s life. (objected).

Q. 62. In March/April 1976 did anything, in particular, happen in the matter of the relationship between Indranath and Surupa? A. On 12th April, 1976 Dola(Surupa) came and told me that Indranath would go to Gauhati on 14th April next. (objected to) (objection overruled).

Q. 64. Was Indranath going alone? a. No. He was going there with a lady.


The Sentence:  By a peculiar judgment by Additional District and Sessions Judge Ranabir Mahapatra(6th Court, Alipore), Indranath was acquitted u/s 302 IPC (murder charge) but found guilty U/S 201of IPC (tampering with evidence) and sentenced to two year’s imprisonment.

The question which never answered by the trial judge that there was a third person apart from Indranath and his servant Jhantu who had given poison to  Surupa. Then why Indra was interested to remove culpable evidence and to save whom Indra did it. What was the nature of that evidence? All surprisingly the judgment came into the conclusion that there was criminal conspiracy to eliminate Surupa with some ulterior motive but prosecution failed to establish that Indra and Jhantu were involved in the murder of Surupa.

Surupa died due to Mercuric Chloride in her stomach (Post mortem Report).  


Source: Dainik Basumati, Indra Nath Guha Vs State of West Bengal-28/11/1978 and Sati Kanta Guha And Anr. vs State Of West Bengal-25/07/1977