J-K HC reserves decision on transfer of Shopian case to CBI

J-K HC reserves decision on transfer of Shopian case to CBI

The state government has made a plea before the High Court seeking transfer of the case involving rape and murder of two women in Shopian to the CBI, but a division bench comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Mohammad Yaqoob Mir did not specify when the decision would be pronounced.

The state represented by Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Qadri argued strongly to transfer the case to CBI as doubts were raised about the impartiality of probe being conducted by Special Investigative Team.

"Doubts were raised about the impartiality of the probe. Members in the assembly demanded a CBI probe and the government decided to hand over the case to the CBI," the Attorney General said.

The Chief Justice questioned, "Whatever (evidence) was there, seems to have been destroyed. Now, you want to bring in CBI for what purpose?" The bench also referred to alleged fudging of samples of vaginal swabs of the victims saying it seems there were efforts to shield the culprits.

The Chief Justice pointed out several lapses made in the initial investigations when the bodies of Neelofar (22) and her sister-in-law Aasiya (17) were recovered from a river in Shopian on May 30.

"We have no doubt that they (SIT) have not done what they were required to do. We are afraid that if such a handpicked team of officers is not able to pursue investigations, officers coming from outside will not be able to carry out investigations. What is the point in bring them (CBI) here," the bench asked.

The bench said it had no doubt about the intentions of the state government to bring out the truth from the investigations but wondered if employees of the state government would permit this. About the four police officials accused of destroying the evidence in the case, the Chief Justice said it was a unique FIR never seen before.

"An FIR is registered for some other offence and destruction of evidence is added to the charges," he said. The defence lawyer for the police officer Javid Iqbal Matto wanted to be heard but the Chief Justice said, "we have nothing to do with the police officers as the Supreme Court has taken away our powers (on bail)."

After being permitted, counsel for the police officials Asim Mehrotra said, the Commission had recommended investigation on role of Neelofar's husband and brother and added that these recommendations have yet not been implemented. The Chief Justice made it clear that court was not considering the report of Jan Commission which probed the case.

"As soon as the fudging of vaginal swabs came to light, it immediately came to our mind that it cannot be done by the husband. It is not that easy," the Chief Justice said.
President of Kashmir Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom opposed the transfer of case saying, "the state government is trying to divert the attention by shifting the case to CBI so that it will die its natural death. The state wants to shun its responsibility." Qayoom said there was a concerted attempt to shield the guilty. "Either they are trying to shield the culprits or have committed the crimes themselves," he said pointing out at the way initial investigations were carried out.

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