The Delhi High Court on Thursday demanded an answer from the police “one way or the other” on the fate of JNU student Najeeb Ahmad missing for the past five months, observing that except for “paperwork” nothing else is happening. In some tough talk, a bench of Justices G S Sistani and Vinod Goel told DCP (Crime) Ramgopal Naik to “do whatever you have to do” to find the student, who is missing since October 15 last, “One way or the other we want an answer. If he is dead, say he is dead. We won’t accept paperwork. Do whatever you have to. Find him,” the court said, and warned “else we will have someone else here”
“Except for paperwork, nothing else is happening. Your investigating officer (IO) is wasting time. By sending him out to check records of police stations and hospitals on the Delhi-Bareilly-Haridwar route, you are wasting public money,” the court said. The court directed Delhi Police to give the call records of the nine students suspected to be behind Najeeb’s disappearance and listed the habeas corpus petition filed by Najeeb’s mother on March 31.
The court’s observation came after advocate Pallavi Sharma, appearing for Najeeb’s mother, contended that the steps taken by Delhi Police to trace the student were “cosmetic” in nature and “no serious endeavours were being made” to find him. She also claimed that the police were “attempting to shield” the nine students, who are suspects in the case and may have information about Najeeb, instead of interrogating them.
The lawyer said that even the trial court was stuck on the issue of carrying out polygraph test of the nine students as they have filed several applications claiming the trial court does not have the power to decide the issue. The nine are neither giving consent nor recording their refusal to the test, she said. The trial court is likely to pronounce its order on the students’ application on March 20. Mehra, meanwhile, told the court that Najeeb’s roommate has consented to the polygraph test.
Sharma sought a direction to the police commissioner for filing an affidavit explaining steps taken till date to trace Najeeb, but the high court declined the plea saying that the police have filed several status reports in the matter. During the hearing, the DCP told the court that the forensic labs were examining the call records and emails of Najeeb and they were also looking into whether he left the country as he has a passport.
The bench, however, did not appreciate the steps the police claimed to have taken and termed it as a “waste of time” and amassing of paperwork. It told the officer to “dispel” the aspersions being cast on the capability of the police.
Najeeb’s mother, Fatima, has been for some time expressing dissatisfaction with the police investigation and has sought that some other agency be tasked with the probe into the matter. Her lawyer on Thursday sought that the investigation be handed over to some agency as they had no faith in Delhi Police. 27-year-old Najeeb has been missing since October 14-15 last year after a scuffle at his JNU hostel allegedly with ABVP activists the previous night. The RSS students’ wing has denied any involvement in his disappearance.