Govt to decide investigating agency in Shopian case: HC

28 August 2009
The Daily Excelsior
Inayat Jehangir

SRINAGAR: Decks have been cleared for the State Government to transfer the Shopian rape and murder case of two women to CBI as the State High Court, which has been monitoring the investigations of the case, today left to the discretion of the Government to transfer the case from Special Investigating Team (SIT) to any other agency. 'We …. leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the Government. We make it amply clear that none of our orders, including the order dated July 4, 2009, shall stand in the way of the Government altering the investigating agency,' the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir said in its seven-page order. The order was issued by the bench on a plea of the State Government to allow it to transfer the case to the CBI in view of the doubts raised over the credibility of the probe conducted by the SIT by some MLAs, Bar Association and relatives of the victims. The Court on Wednesday had reserved its orders after hearing the arguments from both sides. 'In the instant (Shopian) case, after having lodged the FIR, in discharge of its bounden duty, the State through its police department has commenced investigation. It now desires that such investigation be handed over to another investigating agency. 'The duty to investigate being of the Government, we feel that it is up to the Government to decide through which agency it would have the crime investigated,' the court said. Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather on August 12 stated in the Legislative Assembly that the State Government has decided to hand over the investigations of the case to the CBI but it would seek permission of the High Court as the SIT had been formed on its orders. The court sought to remind the Government that it was duty bound to investigate the offences and bring the offenders to the book. 'Such duty, under no circumstances, can be scuttled by any action of any one, including that of the Government or any of its agencies upon which it may place reliance.' 'We make it further clear that this duty of the Government is based on the fundamental right to life enshrined in the Constitution and accordingly even after death, a person through society is entitled to know why his right to life has been snapped and who is the perpetrator of the crime,' it added. The Court said it reminds the State that 'we shall remain vigilant until it is reported to us that the mystery surrounding the death of these two young ladies has been solved.' The court said it will enquire at the next stage of hearing whether the statutory channel of investigation has functioned properly in solving the mystery. 'If not, we shall be constrained to take such steps we may feel proper and which steps we can take in accordance with law,' the bench said. The court adjourned the main case till September 30 and noted that 'if result of investigation is not encouraging, the State is directed to produce all records and papers pertaining to investigation before us for the purpose of making an endeavour to ascertain whether the channel of investigation has functioned properly or not.' Meanwhile, the arguments on the criminal revision of the bail application filed by SP Javid Iqbal Matoo and Deputy SP Rohit Baskotra continued before the Single Bench of Justice Sunil Hali in the High Court. As soon as the court assembled, the State counsel Additional Advocate General Ali Mohammad Magray sought adjournment of the proceedings for some days on the grounds that he had been appointed only last night. 'That is not the problem of the court … it is the problem of the Government,' Justice Hali observed. He, however, allowed the Government Counsel time till after lunch. Magray said the police officers were based on the directions of the Division Bench who passed the order after perusing the case diaries and status report. However, the court wanted to know what was the criminal involvement of the police officers to deny them bail. Earlier, Kashmir High Court Bar Association, which had filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Shopian case, moved an intervention application seeking to apprise the court about its views on the bail plea. The court was adjourned till Monday when the Bar Association will put forth its case.