SC seeks response of ex-Himachal IGP on custodial death case
The Supreme Court Friday sought responses from former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Zahur Haider Zaidi and seven Himachal Pradesh policemen, accused in a case relating to the custodial death of a man, as to why the trial against them not be transferred to a Delhi court from Shimla.
Zaidi and other cops are to be tried in a local court there for allegedly killing in police custody a man who was among those arrested on charge of gang-raping a minor school girl in Kotkhai in Shimla district last year.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul, during the brief hearing, hinted that the court on its own may transfer the trial in the case against the former IGP and others to a Delhi court from Himachal Pradesh.
"If you (Zaidi) are not pressing for transfer of the case then we will suo motu transfer it to Delhi and we will ask the Delhi court to conclude the trial within six months," the bench said.
The top court also said, "It is not a case of simple 302 (murder). You are accused in a custodial death case."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, said that though the charge sheet has been filed, the trial in the case "has not seen the light of the day" and hence, the case be transferred to a Delhi court for expeditious disposal.
The law officer said that Zaidi, being the former IGP, may influence the witnesses in the case and, moreover, other accused are also policemen.
The bench later suggested that let the trial continue in a Shimla court and in the meantime, it would grant bail to the former IGP and restrain him from going to Himachal Pradesh except for attending the court proceedings there.
Mehta objected to the suggestion and pressed for transfer of the case from Shimla to Delhi.
The court then issued notices to Zaidi, DSP (Theog) Manoj Joshi and six other policemen and sought their responses within two weeks as to why the custodial death case not be transferred to Delhi.
The bench told senior advocate Salman Khursid, appearing for Zaidi, that it would also take up his bail plea after two weeks.
Zaidi had sought interim bail on the grounds that he had to attend the post-death rituals of Chhehalum of his mother from November 6 to 8, 2018 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
The High Court had dismissed Zaidi's bail plea, saying it would not be appropriate to release him on bail at this stage as the alleged crime was of serious nature and a detailed investigation was required in the case.
Zaidi and seven others were arrested in the custodial death case of Suraj, who was found dead in the Kotkhai police station on July 18.
The CBI has already filed the charge sheet against the accused.
A 16-year-old girl had gone missing in the Kotkhai on July 4 last year and her body was found from the Halaila forests on July 6, last year.
The post-mortem report had confirmed rape and murder and a case was registered.
Amid huge public outcry in the state, an SIT headed by Zaidi was constituted by the then Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government.
The SIT arrested six persons, one of whom died in police station, following which the High Court handed over the investigations of both cases to the CBI on July 19.
The CBI had arrested the then IGP Zahur Haidar Zaidi and DSP (Theog) Manoj Joshi alongwith six other policemen with regard to the custodial death.
(With inputs from agencies.)