Srinagar: A city court has reserved its order in an application challenging CBI counsel’s appointment in Shopian rapes and double death case.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate which is the designated court for CBI cases reserved its order and the same will be pronounced on December 8.
Syed Reyaz Khawar, counsel for the accused lawyers in the matter had challenged the appointment of CBI counsel S K Bhat on the grounds that since the case pertains to the Jammu and Kashmir, the state government was supposed to appoint a public prosecutor to plead the case in the court. However, the S K Bhat argued that CBI is within the “well-defined jurisdiction” to plead the case.
“The case was transferred to the CBI for investigation, and there is no reason to oppose my appointment.”
According to advocate Khawar, the CJM will hear the other two applications one filed by Shakeel Ahangar seeking re-investigation into alleged rape and murder of his wife Neelofar and sister Asiya Jan and the second application seeking copy of investigation report conducted by the Special Investigation Team supervised by Inspector General of Police Farooq Ahmad.
Earlier on March 26 this year, Syed Reyaz Hussain, the counsel for Shakeel, Syed Reyaz Khawar counsel for accused doctors and lawyers while objecting to the appointment of public prosecutor were unanimous in their arguments that since the case pertains to the Jammu and Kashmir government, the Public Prosecutor must be appointed by the state government only.
“The CBI counsel can not appear as a public prosecutor in this matter as he has been associated with the CBI investigations and it is the duty of the state government to appoint a public prosecutor in this matter,” advocate Syed Reyaz Hussain had argued during the last hearing of the matter.
The CBI has already filed its objections to the protest petition filed by Shakeel Ahangar husband of Neelofar Jan and brother of Asiya Jan—the two women who were allegedly raped and then murdered in Shopian in May 2009.
Ahangar in his protest petition had sought reinvestigation into the case by any agency other than the CBI. However, CBI has objected to the reinvestigation of the matter on the basis that its investigation is foolproof and there are merits in the protest petition.
In the meantime, an application was moved by the complainant to replace the public prosecutor as according to Syed Reyaz Hussain the CBI counsel was ineligible to appear as Public Prosecutor in this matter.
On March 26, advocate Hussain argued that the court should first decide the application filed for replacement of Public prosecutor before proceeding in the main protest petition.
It may be recalled that on its last hearing on November 9, 2010 the court had issued notice to the CBI to file its objections if any to the responses submitted by the accused doctors and lawyers.
The accused doctors and lawyers had furnished their responses before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar who is also a designated court for CBI in Kashmir.
In their responses to the Shakeel Ahangar’s application filed on September 23 last year, the accused doctors and lawyers have expressed their agreement with Shakeel’s demand. Shakeel in his application had sought reinvestigation of the mysterious death of his wife Neelofar and sister Asiya by any agency other than the CBI.
The counsel for accused doctors and lawyers had challenged the appointment of CBI counsel for prosecution submitting that since the case pertains to the state government, it was the prerogative of the state government only to appoint the public prosecutor.
Advocate Khawar had further sought a direction from the court to the CBI to furnish the copy of the report of investigation conducted by the Special Investigation Team. The court later issued the notice to the CBI to file its response to the prayers made by the counsel for accused doctors and lawyers by or before December 11, 2010.
However, CBI had sought time from the court to file objections to the protest application moved by Shakeel in which he had sought reinvestigation of the case.
Supporting the protest application counsel for complainant (Shakeel) Syed Reyaz Hussain had submitted before the court that section 173 (8) of Criminal Procedure Code says that at the time when the charge sheet is presented before the court, the complainant must be put to notice. However, in Shopian case, this law was violated and Shakeel was not asked about his satisfaction about the investigation, Hussain had argued.
Pertinently, the CBI has already described the death of two women as “accidental drowning” and chargesheeted 13 persons including five lawyers, six doctors and two civilians (witnesses) accused of fabricating the evidence and retracting from their statements.
On December 10, 2009 the CBI presented charge sheet against 13 persons before the CJM, Srinagar. The charge sheet said that two women, Asiya Jan and her sister-in-law Neelofar who had gone missing on May 29, 2009 and then whose bodies were found on banks of Ramber Nalla in Shopian on May 30, 2009 have been neither raped nor murdered.
The CBI charge sheet has described the death of two women as “accidental drowning.”
The CBI said that investigation has established that false post mortem reports prepared by the first team of doctors comprising Dr Bilal Ahmad Dalal, and Dr Nazia Hassan and second team of doctors comprising Dr Nighat Shaheen, Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi and Dr Maqbool Mir in connivance with Dr Ghulam Muhammad Paul. The lawyers accused in the charge-sheet include Mushtaq Ahmad Gatoo, Sheikh Mubarak, Altaf Muhammad, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat and Abdul Majid Mir. The civilian include elder brother of Asiya (victim), Zahoor Ahmad Ahanger and Ali Mohammad Sheikh. The duo has been accused of fabricating evidence and intimidating witnesses to mislead the investigations in the case.
CBI, which took over the investigation from SIT on September 17, 2909 into the rape and murders of two Shopian women, completed its probe in December 2009.