The Supreme Court has asked Jammu and Kashmir Police not to arrest an Army officer over his alleged involvement in the custodial disappearance of a chemist from Rawalpora in 2002.
A bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu ordered a stay on the J&K High Court order, which had directed an SIT of the state police to arrest Brigadier Kishore Malhotra and subject him to custodial interrogation.
Admitting the appeal filed by the Centre against the high court order, the bench recently issued notices and also allowed Malhotra’s plea to be heard as a party. “Brig. Kishore Malhotra shall not be arrested…but he will participate in the probe and co-operate with the investigating agency,” added the bench.
On July 7, the high court took strong exception to the SIT’s failure to arrest Malhotra, who was a Major when an Army team, led by him, allegedly picked up Manzoor Ahmad Dar from Rawalpora, Srinagar, in January 2002. As Dar did not return, his family first approached local police and subsequently filed a petition in the high court seeking an inquiry into his disappearance.
Acting on the plea by Dar’s wife, the high court ordered an SIT probe. During the last hearing, the high court expressed displeasure at the pace of the probe. “Instead of approaching authorities concerned for prosecution of Major Kishore Malhotra for offence punishable under Section 364 (abduction for murder) of the RPC, the SIT should have arrested Major Kishore and subjected him to custodial interrogation and should have taken the investigation ahead to find out circumstances (under which) Manzoor Ahmad Dar was picked up and whether he was subjected to custodial disappearance,” it noted.