Srinagar: “When crime is committed, culprits are to be brought to justice”, the J&K high court observed on Tuesday as it directed special investigation team (SIT) to complete within two months its investigation into the killing of two youths, allegedly due to police firing, in Anantnag district during the 2010 agitation.
“Almost five years have elapsed and investigation is yet to be completed. The Investigating Agency is not only under statutory obligation to conclude the investigation at the earliest, but is under constitutional obligation in terms of Article 21 of the Constitution to conclude the investigation at the earliest,” a single bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar observed after hearing SSP Anantnag Abdul Jabar, who was present in person along with sub-inspector Mohammad Yousuf.
The two youngsters— Bilal Ahmad Najar and Noor-ul-Amin Dugga— were killed near Ahl-e-Hadees Masjid at Khannabal on September 19, 2010, after cops opened fire on the funeral procession of another youth Maroof Ahmad Nath, whose body had been recovered on the fateful day. Maroof had drowned in the Jhelum on September 13 while being chased allegedly by police and CRPF personnel.
“The criminal justice system forms the edifice for having an orderly society. When crime is committed, culprits are to be brought to justice. Delay in conducting investigation would, in turn, result in delayed filing of challan, which is bound to adversely affect the administration of criminal justice,” the court said and directed the SIT to take all steps to conclude the investigation within two months.
The SSP informed the court that out of 101 witnesses—whose list was provided by the victim families—statements of 94 of them have been recorded. Besides, he said, some other formalities are also to be completed for concluding the investigation.
“Given the particulars of these persons, they will be easily available for recording of their statements. The refusal of any of the persons to remain available in connection of investigation of case does not render the investigating agency incapable of ensuring their presence for recording their statements,” the court said, observing that criminal procedure code authorizes investigating agency to enforce the attendance of witnesses for recording of their statements.
“The investigating agency is directed to take Immediate steps for recording statements of remaining six persons,” the court said and directed SIT to record their within week’s time.
“All these persons would be available investigation agency being residents of the area adjacent to the alleged place of occurrence. The Investigating Agency shall lake all further steps to conclude the investigation within two months from today,” the court said.
While positing the case on October 5, the bench directed SIT to file status report after every week before the Registrar Judicial of the Court.
“In case investigation is not completed by the next date then the investigating officers shall present in person before the court to explain their position,” the court added.
Monitoring the process of the case, the court on 29 August 2013 had observed that the year 2010, “in which precious lives have been lost”, deserves special attention so that the investigation was concluded with ‘convenient speed’.
The police had initially refused to register an FIR, contending that a case (FIR No. 355/2010) was already registered with regard to the drowning incident. In November 2012, a bench of Justice Virender Singh had withdrawn the proceedings of the case from Chief Judicial Magistrate Anantnag for monitoring by the High Court so as to avoid “miscarriage of justice.”
In its report, the State Human Rights Commission had stated that the case (FIR No. 355/2010 under section 188, 147, 148, 336, 427, 307 RPC, 3-4 Public Property [Prevention of Damages] Act-1985) was actually registered against the two slain youths.