Three days after a Muslim man died and his friend suffered severe injuries after being attacked by a group who accused the two of slaughtering a bull in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district, the police have not yet handed over a copy of the First Information Report of the case to the families of the victims, their relatives said on Wednesday.

Shiraj Khan and his friend Shakeel, 38, were attacked on Sunday by a group of men wielding sticks and wooden planks as they were walking to their homes in Maihar town from a neighbouring village. The men accused them of killing a bull for meat. Khan died in the attack, while Shakeel was badly injured. He is being treated in Jabalpur. The police registered the First Information Report on Sunday on the basis of Shakeel’s statement, making him the official informant.

Under Section 154(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the police are supposed to hand over a copy of the First Information Report to the informant at the earliest after a case has been registered. The FIR, which is a public document, is crucial for the families to understand the circumstances that led to Khan’s death, how exactly Shakeel was injured, what preliminary charges the police has brought and to prepare a legal defence. This is even more critical because the victims have been booked for bull slaughter. The police have said that Shakeel is likely to be arrested once he is declared fit by the doctors, their relatives said.

“For the past three days, we have been going to the police station every day asking for the FIR only to be rejected on some pretext or the other,” said Imraan Khan, Shiraj Khan’s younger brother, on Wednesday afternoon. “The last time the police said that a team had gone to Jabalpur to take Shakeel’s statement again for some reason but when I called up Shakeel’s relatives it turned out to be untrue. They too have not received copy of the FIR.”

One of Shakeel’s relatives confirmed over the phone from Jabalpur on Wednesday that the family has not received a copy of the First Information Report.

Superintendent of Police (Satna) Rajesh Hingankar promised to remedy the situation. “I will ensure that the families get the copies of the FIR if they have not received it yet,” he said. “They are entitled to receive that. For why that has not happened, I will have to check with the police station.”

Two cases

After the incident took place in the wee hours of Sunday, the police had registered two cases at Badera Police Station in Maihar tehsil of Satna. In the first case, Shiraj Khan and Shakeel were booked under the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Cow Slaughter Ban Act, 2004, and the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Cattle Preservation Act, 1959. Under these laws, it is illegal to even kill bulls.

In the second case, four persons were booked – and later arrested – under charges of murdering Khan and attempting to murder Shakeel.

Shakeel is an accused in the first case and complainant in the second. The complainant in the first case, identified as Pawan Singh Gond, is an accused the second.

Superintendent of Police Hingankar said that the families of Khan and Shakeel families can only receive copies of the FIR in which they are the victims (the case of murder and attempt to murder) and not the ones in which they are the accused (the case of cow slaughter).

Under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an accused person is also entitled to receive a copy of the First Information Report but only during the trial. However, in September 2016, the Supreme Court had issued guidelines saying that the accused is entitled to receive copy of a FIR at an earlier stage than prescribed in the Code of Criminal Procedure by submitting an application through his representative to the concerned Superintendent of Police.