The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday decided to declassify the documents lying with it relating to the CBI and state police probes into the gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl and the subsequent custodial death of an accused.
Disposing of a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) petition, a division bench led by acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol said: “Eventually, we hold that the affidavits be made available to all parties.”
“Equally it shall be open for the applicant to take all steps, as may be required, in law for unearthing the truth in relation to both the incidents of crime, should the need so arise after perusing the same.”
The judges said the charge sheet filed by the CBI in both cases is not before them.
“Why should truth be not made known to all? Obviously investigation carried out, at least with respect to one FIR, by one of the agencies was misdirected. Is it required to be examined as to whether subsequent investigation can be faulted for the very same reason or not is, for the prosecutor and the trial court to examine?”
“But it would not mean that we lack any jurisdiction or authority, which, if required, we would not hesitate to do so,” said the 45-page judgment, which was reserved on September 14.
“We clarify that the affidavits were taken on record only for ensuring that the officers not only fully cooperate but also disclose all such facts, which were well within their knowledge, to the investigating agency. After all, one of the accused had died in police custody,” they said.
The high court ordered to open the sealed envelope(s) having affidavits in the presence of the counsel for the parties on September 24.
Both the gang rape and murder cases and that pertaining to the subsequent custodial death of an accused were monitored by the high court. Both cases are now being investigated by the CBI.
The police said the schoolgirl was offered a lift in a vehicle by the accused on July 4 last year while she was returning home from school in Kotkhai town, 56 km from here.
On the way, the accused and his associates raped and murdered her in a nearby forest. Her naked body with injury marks was found two days later.
However, there was a new twist in the case after an accused was murdered by another in the police lock-up on July 19.
After the CBI took over, nine policemen, including Inspector General of Police Z.H. Zaidi and former Shimla Superintendent of Police D.W. Negi, were arrested on the charge of custodial death. They are in judicial custody.
Zaidi was head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the case before the CBI took over.