Thursday, October 1, 2009

‘State govt brought CBI for cover up

Bar withdraws from Shopian case

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, Sept 30: In a major development the High Court Bar Association today withdrew from the Shopian double murder and rape case while accusing the State 

government of using Centre Bureau of Investigation to bury it.

“They have exhumed bodies of the two women and conducted postmortem and autopsy on them on Monday. Since Yesterday media is reporting while quoting the 

CBI that one of the victim is virgin. This is what we had apprehended and this is the plan for which they (CBI) has been brought to investigate the case,” the Bar president Mian Abdul Qayoom said when the case came up for hearing before the Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice, Justice Barin Gosh and the Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir.

Qayoom said the High Court had not given any direction to the State government to hand over the case to the Centre Bureau of Investigation in its order of August 28. However, he said, the State government in violation of the Court orders passed an order on September 9, 2009 and handed over the case to the CBI.

The Bar president said that the High Court had ordered to the State government that in case the family members of the victims agree for exhumation of the bodies for the postmortem and autopsy, it should be conducted by a team of doctors nominated by the Principal Government Medical College and the investigating team should take the Principal’s suggestion while exhuming the bodies.

But, Qayoom said, the CBI instead brought a team from the AIIMS and has not involved anyone from the GMC. “And now from Tuesday the media is reporting while quoting CBI that one of the victim was virgin,” the Bar president said. He said on first day Bar had informed the Court that the CBI investigation would bury the case. “The CBI has been brought to give clean chit to criminals involved in the case,” he said.

The Bar president said the CBI during postmortem the CBI has associated Dr Ghulam Qadir Khan. Qayoom said Dr Khan has returned from Saudi Arabia after 20 years and he has no expertise in the subject. “Why the doctor who is only MS and is not expert in the subject has been associated with postmortem and autopsy and why the GMC doctors have been ignored,” he asked. He described the CBI action as contempt of the Court and said that the State government and the agency should be indicted for the contempt.

Qayoom said, Dr Sudhir Gupta, Associate Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine, AIIMS, who was not part of the team of doctors who examined the bodies has stated that even though the female genitalia is usually resistant to decomposition, after three months it is highly unlikely that exhuming the decomposed bodies would help in investigations. “The uterus usually does not decompose easily but after three months it is difficult to say with certainty which parts of the organ will be intact. In a case of a sexual assault, forensic experts usually look for injury on the organ and discharge. Even if the body is kept in a deep freezer, after five days, the discharge is lost as the vagina is infected due to assault. It is impossible to establish anything from this exercise of exhuming the bodies of the victims,” Qayoom said while quoting Dr Gupta and asked the logic behind the exhumation of the bodies.

He said the four police officers have been bailed out by the Courts after giving them regular hearings and the police was more than prompt to release them. “It is the same police which feels no regret in dishonoring the Court orders in detainees cases and books the detainees released by the Courts just outside the jails,’ he said. He said the Bar has no faith on the CBI and accused State of brining the agency for cover up. Qayoom announced its withdrawal from the case and left the Court room along with Bar Vice President Ejaz Bedar and General Secretary G.N Shaheen.

In June 2009, the Bar had filed the petition in the High Court and had asked it to monitor the investigation of the case.

However, advocate general of the State Muhammad Ishaq Qadri in his submissions said the High Court in August 28, 2009 judgment had stated that the State has discretion to hand over the case to anyone. He described the Bar president’s statement about the CBI as move to “malign the premier investigating agency of the country.” He however didn’t say anything about the investigation and said the case was now with the CBI.

The CBI counsel Ashok Bhan said the CBI has brought competent people to carry exhumation, postmortem and autopsy on the bodies. Besides, he said, the High Court directions were for the Special Investigation Team not for the CBI. He said the CBI was investigating the case and at present it was not possible to present details about the investigation. He said no official of the CBI has talked to any person in media. He assured the Court that the CBI would not disclose anything to anyone about the case except the High Court. The CBI counsel said that Dr Ghulam Qadir Khan was brought on the insistence of the Majlis Mushawarat. “The CBI wants to take people along,” he said.

The High Court after hearing the submissions said, “We don’t want to interfere with the investigation at this stage. But we want to know the details about the persons who conducted the postmortem of the bodies and their profile.” In an open Court the Bench ordered that the details of the persons should be presented to the Court on next date of hearing on October 13, 2009. The Court directed the CBI to reveal how they conducted the postmortem and whoelse, other than CBI, was part of the team. However the Court made it clear that it doesn’t want the details of the autopsy and postmortem at this stage.

The Court said it won’t close the case even though the original petitioner, the Bar Association, has withdrawn from the case. “The PIL has been accepted by the Court and we will carry on in accordance with the law until the mystery is resolved,” the Court said.

The Court said it wanted to pass an order to effect that no member of the CBI shall speak a word to the media. “But the CBI counsel has assured us that no official would divulge anything to anyone about the case except to this court in the form of reports,” the Court said.

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