The special CBI Court of Chandigarh has dismissed the two applications of suspended Inspector General of Himachal Pradesh Police Zahur Haider Zaidi, seeking access to a computer and better facilities in Burail jail, where he is presently lodged.
Special CBI judge Dr Sushil Kumar Garg, while dismissing Zaidi’s plea regarding the use of a computer installed in the office of Model Jail, Burail, Chandigarh for preparing his defence/case notes, held that, “there is no such provision in the Punjab Jail Manual, vide which undertrial prisoners can be allowed to have access of computers for preparing their defence in court cases.”
The court further held that, “it is pertinent to mention here that no inmate of the jail is allowed to use computer in the office for preparing his/her defence due to security reasons”.
Regarding granting of ‘B’ class status to him, him being a post-graduate and income tax payee, the court held, “India is governed by constitutional rule of law. Nobody is above the law. It is pertinent to mention here that like should be treated alike, unlike should not be treated alike.”
“…Equality before law prohibits discrimination. The necessary corollary to this would be that equals would be treated equally, whilst unequals would have to be treated unequally. In pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution, Punjab Jail Manual provides the rules/guidelines/instructions including the rights and duties of convicted and under trial prisoners…,” read the court order while dismissing the ‘B’ class facility plea.
The CBI judge stated that “…no doubt, applicant/accused Z.H. Zaidi has the degree of Bachelor of Science (Engineering), but applicant/accused Z.H. Zaidi is involved in the commission of serious offence of murder i.e. Section 302 of Indian Penal Code with other offences, which debars him to get the ‘B’ Class facility in the jail as per the instructions…”
Earlier opposing to plea of Zaidi, the CBI counsel had also submitted that Zaidi is facing trial for a heinous offence which is custodial death and hence does not deserve any special treatment during his judicial custody.
Nine accused including IGP Zaidi, Superintendent of Police DW Negi, DSP Theog Manoj Joshi, former Kotkhai Station House Officer (SHO) Rajinder Singh, ASI Deep Chand, was investigating officer of the case, Head Constables Surat Singh, Mohan Lal and Rafee Mohammad, and Constable Ranjit Steta are facing charges of custodial death of Suraj Singh at Kotkhai (Himachal Pradesh). The case had been transferred to the Chandigarh CBI Court by the Supreme Court.
Suraj, an accused in the Gudia rape and murder case, was killed in the Kotkhai police station in July 2017. The 16-year-old girl had gone missing in Kotkhai on July 4, 2017, and her body was found from Halaila forests two days later. The autopsy had confirmed rape and murder.
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