Srinagar: The J&K high court has granted the police’s special investigation team (SIT) the “last opportunity” to conclude investigation into the custodial disappearance of a man, Manzoor Ahmad Dar of Rawalpora Srinagar, in 2002.
“Last opportunity of seven weeks is granted to the SIT to conclude the investigation. The (SIT) is expected to show utmost urgency and seriousness in concluding the investigation. Failure on its part will be viewed seriously and action, as prescribed by law, will be taken against (it),” a bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said after perusal of the last status report filed by the SIT and hearing the petitioner and Manzoor’s wife, Mst Jana.
In the status report, filed last month, the SIT has stated that during the investigation it has been concluded “as proved” that Brigadier Kishore Malhotra is accused of commission of offence under section 364 RPC (kidnapping and abduction in order to murder).
On August 31, the Supreme Court has directed the Brigadier to cooperate with police investigation even as it asked the SIT not to arrest him as was directed by the high court in July this year.
“In terms of order of the apex Court, it has become easier for the (SIT) to interrogate Brigadier Kishore Malhotra as he is under obligation to cooperate with the (SIT),” the court observed and directed the SIT to ensure that the army officer participates and cooperates in the investigation.
“It will be the responsibility of the SIT to inform the Supreme Court in case (the) Brigadier does not cooperate,” the court said.
It also observed that SIT’s report was silent about the other army personnel, their identification and their complicity in the disappearance of Mazoor.
“The FIR, registered in the year 2002, has not reached to its culmination because investigation has not been completed till date. This casts serious reflection on the conduct and capability of the investigating agency,” the court observed.
Referring to Jana, who was present before it, the court observed that for the last thirteen years, justice has not been meted out to her, “solely due to failure of the (SIT) to conclude the investigation.”
“It is the constitutional obligation of this Court to ensure that justice is meted out to the petitioner,” the court said directed the SIT to file latest status report of its investigation. It directed the listing of the case during the week commencing October 26.
Jana had deposed before a magistrate that soldiers of the RR had come to her house during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and took her husband along with them.
“It was completely dark…army personnel were holding torches,” she said. The officer, she added, was accompanying the army party that revisited her house “two to four times” after the first raid.
Jana had also deposed that she was not content with the closure report filed by the police and demanded further investigation into the matter.
Subsequently, the magistrate directed the investigating officer to conduct the investigation “de novo” (from the beginning). The magistrate also directed the police to at least hold a test identification parade of the accused persons in Jana’s presence.
Jana’s charges against the army have been corroborated by an inquiry conducted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam. Subsequent to the inquiry by the CJM, the high court had directed the SHO of police station Saddar to conduct the investigation into the FIR (33/2002 under section 364 RPC) expeditiously.
During the course of the investigation, the police recorded statements of various witnesses, including Jana and her daughter Bilquees. Both of them revealed that Malhotra, who was then posted at Old Airport Srinagar, knew the circumstances leading to Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance.