Handwara: Demand for probe by sitting judge ‘unnecessary’, says HC

Handwara: Demand for probe by sitting judge ‘unnecessary’, says HC

Says no reason to suspect that SIT would not do what is required of it under law; leaves it for girl to seek compensation for circulation of video

Srinagar: The J&K high court on Wednesday dismissed as “unnecessary” the demand for a judicial probe by a sitting judge in the molestation of a schoolgirl in Handwara and the subsequent killing of five people at the hands of army and police last month.
“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 Mohammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan said and accordingly dismissed the petition “as being unnecessary.”
“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 authority for formulation of such a recommendation would again be dependent upon the very same police agency,” the court said.
The petition was filed by Kashmir High Court Bar Association through its President Mian Qayoom and the state’s highest court had reserved its decision last week after hearing the petitioner and state’s Advocate General DC Raina.
The state government had objected to the judicial probe and had instead claimed that a seven-member special investigation team headed by DIG north Kashmir has been formed for “speedy investigation” into six out of 30 FIRs registered on the April 12 incident and its aftermath.
“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 court said, adding that the state authorities have not denied that civilians have died in these incidents. In fact, the court said, their “sincere endeavor” seems to be to promptly investigate the cases and bring the culprits to justice. “It is to be borne in mind that (Mian Qayoom) has also prayed that simultaneous with the conduct of the judicial probe, the FIRs registered at Handwara, Drugmulla, Nuthnusa and Kupwara be investigated and, besides preserving the evidence, final reports in terms of Section 173 Cr. P. C. be filed before the appropriate court. The investigating officers/team (should) be directed to visit the spot forthwith and collect all the evidence which may be available on the spot and relevant to the case, so as to make use of the same, before the judicial authority and also in a court of law. In face of this prayer, what would be the function of the judicial authority sought to be appointed?” the court asked, and also questioned whether the judicial commission would 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. Further, there is no reason for this Court to suspect that the Police or SIT would not do what is required of them under the Code or Criminal Procedure to achieve the objectives (of fair and impartial investigation).”
Regarding the videography of the girl in police station Handwara and circulation of the video, the court said: “We leave the aggrieved person, if any, free to seek compensation in appropriate proceedings.”
The lawyers’ body had demanded that the investigating agency should be directed to see as to who recorded the video of the victim girl in the police station Handwara, and how she was videographed, and at whose instance the video was released on social networks. The minor girl in the video is seen apparently exonerating the army man of the molestation attempt.
In the reply filed by the government to the Bar’s petition about “forcible preparing and circulation of the video” on social media, the government stated that it would form part of the investigation of the FIR (130/2016) registered at the instance of the girl.