May 2016 News

Kupwara, Handwara Killings: HC Dismisses PIL Seeking Judicial Probe

4 May 2016
Greater Kashmir
D A Rashid

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking judicial probe into the alleged molestation of a girl and subsequent killing of five civilians by forces in north Kashmir's Handwara and Kupwara. 'We are of the considered view that this is not a case where this Court would need to take any action in exercise of its inherent powers, for, the state and its functionaries have already taken the required steps envisaged by law,' a division bench of Justices Ali Muhammad Magrey and TashiRabstan said in its order, dismissing the petition as 'unnecessary'. The High Court Bar Association through its president Mian Abdul Qayoom had approached the court seeking probe by judicial authority headed by a sitting Judge of the High Court of J&K. The Bar had also pleaded that Judicial Authorities be directed to associate with it a high level investigating team, headed by a credible police officer of the rank of IGP, so that, simultaneously with the conducting of the judicial probe, the FIRs registered at Handwara, Drugmulla, Nuth-Nusa and Kupwara were also investigated. The Bar also sought directions to the investigating agency to see as to how the statement of the victim girl was recorded in Police Station Handwara and how she was videographed and at whose instances her video was released on social networking sites. Referring to the prayer made in the petition, the bench said: 'FIRs stand duly registered at the concerned Police Stations in relation to the incidents in question'. 'Not only that, the Inspector General of Police has also appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a high police official of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police, and the investigation in all these matters, including the one lodged at the instance of the girl, is in progress' the bench added. 'Strictly speaking, this is, therefore, not a case where the State or any of its concerned functionaries have been derelict in their duties or have failed to act promptly so as to supply a reason for this Court to take any action in the matter,' the bench said. Observing that it is not denied by the respondents that civilians have died in these incidents, the court said, 'In fact, their sincere endeavour seems to be to promptly investigate the cases and bring the culprits to justice. The object of investigation certainly is to conduct all such proceedings under the Code of Criminal Procedure as may be necessary for collection of evidence by the Police'. Pointing out that the petitioner himself seems to be keen to ensure that the investigation is conducted by a team headed by a credible police officer of repute, the court held that the IGP himself has constituted a Special Investigating Team headed by an officer of the rank of DIG, the court. 'It is nobody's case that the officers constituting the SIT or the DIG concerned are, in any way, less reputed,' the court said. It observed: 'Otherwise also, in absence of any cogent material to the contrary, it would not be justifiably possible for anybody, including this Court, to raise a finger against any police officer of his being less reputed?' With regard to prayer whether it can order appointment of an enquiry commission headed by a sitting high court Judge and whether news reports could form basis for maintaining the Bar petition, the bench said 'Learned counsel have cited numerous judgments for and against the propositions argued in that behalf, but we think, in reality, such issues are secondary in nature'. Observing that the primary issue is whether there is really anything required to be done by the Court, the bench said, 'Therefore, we do not mention these judgments herein. Referring to the prayer that FIRs registered at Handwara, Drugmulla, Nuth-Nusa and Kupwara be investigated and evidence preserved and final reports in terms of Section 173 Cr. P. C. filed before the appropriate court,' the bench said: 'In (the) face of this prayer, what would be the function of the judicial authority sought to be appointed. Will it supervise the investigation or conduct a parallel investigation, that too, with the aid of a team of police officers'. 'Both these propositions are impracticable and impermissible,' the court observed. 'Further, there is no reason for this Court to suspect that the Police - SIT would not do what is required of them under the Code of Criminal Procedure to achieve the aforesaid objectives. 'Even if, for the sake of argument, a judicial probe is ordered, any report that may ultimately be made by such judicial authority would not be more than a recommendation. And such authority for formulation of such recommendation would again be dependent upon the very same police agency,' the court said. Regarding the issue of alleged videographing of the girl in the Police Station and circulation of such video, the bench said: 'We leave the aggrieved person, if any, free to seek compensation in appropriate proceedings'. The state government was represented by Advocate General D C Raina with Sr AAG, Nazir Ahmad Beigh and GA's Shah Aamir and Hakim Amaan Ali.