THE Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the bail plea of suspended Himachal Pradesh IPS officer Zahur Haider Zaidi, who is an accused in the Kotkhai custodial death case.
However, the court has also asked for a complete list of witnesses to be examined at the outset by the trial court and also asked the CBI to inform it about resumption of the trial, which has got disrupted following the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
While dismissing the bail plea, the HC also directed the trial court to examine all the material witnesses of CBI at the outset on recommencing of the trial and asked the investigating agency to submit such list immediately to the CBI court.
“To come up on June 9 for…for consideration with regard to the direction to be given to the special court as regards examination of all the necessary, material witnesses at the commencement of the trial, because (Vinod) Ghai [Zaidi’s counsel] has submitted that the ‘witnesses list’ to be submitted, may contain some witnesses as are not really material witnesses,” the order passed by Justice Amol Rattan Singh reads.
The case relates to the custodial death of an accused, who had been arrested in a case of alleged rape and murder of a 16-year-old school girl in Kotkhai area of Shimla district. The trial in the 2017 case was transferred to Chandigarh on orders of the Supreme Court. The next date of hearing before trial court is May 29. Zaidi was first arrested on August 29, 2017, within 38 days of the central agency taking over the investigation and remained in custody for over 19 months. He was released on April 6, 2019 on orders of the Supreme Court.
The IGP rank officer was taken into judicial custody on January 24 this year after the special CBI court cancelled his bail as IPS officer Soumya Sambasivan, a prosecution witness, complained to court that she was being pressured by the accused to not depose against him.
CBI counsel Sumeet Goel earlier opposed the bail plea, arguing that Sambasivan’s statement cannot be discarded as “not believable”, adding that may have adverse influence on other witnesses like constables, head constables during the trial.
“Having considered the matter, I agree with (CBI counsel) Goel, that in the circumstances with an IPS officer having made the allegations, her contention also being that the petitioner had a 20-minute telephonic conversations with her on one occasion and for 13 minutes on another occasion and he also (allegedly) had used other means to try and influence her, the impugned order need not be interfered with,” the order reads.
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