Himachal Pradesh’s senior IPS officer Zahur Haider Zaidi, who is an accused in the Kotkhai custodial death case, has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking restoration of his bail.
An IGP-rank officer, he was taken into custody last month after the Chandigarh CBI court cancelled his bail for attempting to influence the trial. Zaidi had been granted bail by the Supreme Court last year.
Contending that the trial court in a hasty manner cancelled Zaidi’s bail, the petition said that a mere allegation regarding intimidation or threat cannot form basis for such a harsh order.
The trial court had cancelled the bail after prosecution witness and SP-rank officer Soumya Sambasivan gave a statement before it that she was being pressured by the accused in an attempt to influence the trial. Sambasivan had accused Zaidi of pressuring her to change her statement. Zaidi, in the bail petition, has said that the trial court did not wait for conclusion of the enquiry being conducted by Himachal Pradesh government into Sambasivan’s allegations. It has also been argued that the trial court did not consider “the fact” that Sambasivan’s testimony in the case is “not of much consequence” as far as he is concerned.
The bail petition has not been yet cleared for hearing due to technical defects in the copy.
Submitting that the CBI had filed the application for cancellation of bail merely because it was “indicated” by the trial court, the petition reads, “the trial court proceeded with a pre-determined mind as it had itself given liberty to the public prosecutor to act in accordance with law. The learned Trial Court had thus, suggested to the CBI to file an application for cancellation of bail”.
The trial court, while cancelling the bail, last month said, “Sambasivan has specifically made the allegations by moving an application as well and suffering the statement on oath before this court that Zaidi has contacted her as well as subordinates over phone with an intent to pressurize her and influence her to depose in his favour and the said course of action of the accused was clear cut violation of principles of fair trial and rule of law,”
The trial in the 2017 case was transferred to Chandigarh on orders of Supreme Court.
The case relates to the custodial death of an accused, who had been arrested in the case of alleged rape and murder of a 16 year old school-girl in Kotkhai area of Shimla district.
Six men were arrested initially by the Himachal Police in the case and one of those suspects was later found dead at the Kotkhai police station. The nine accused in the case include Zaidi, SP DW Negi; DSP, Theog, Manoj Joshi; former Kotkhai SHO Rajinder Singh, ASI Deep Chand, who was investigating officer of the case, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafee Mohammad, and Constable Ranjit Steta.
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