Nine days after a single-judge bench dismissed a petition by the family of Junaid Khan for a CBI probe into the killing of the teenager, allegedly by a mob which had hurled communal slurs on board a Mathura-bound train in June this year, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the trial court proceedings and issued notice to the Haryana government and the CBI on the plea for a CBI probe.
Acting on an appeal against the single-judge bench order, the division bench of Justices Mahesh Grover and Raj Shekhar Attri Tuesday asked the Faridabad sessions court to adjourn the case until January 11. The trial court was scheduled to hear the case on December 12. It has earlier been directed by another single-judge bench of the High Court to conclude the proceedings within five months because there was “every likelihood of prosecution witnesses being put in jeopardy”.
On November 27, while dismissing the plea by Junaid’s family for a CBI probe, Justice Rajan Gupta, in his order, said their claim that there had been a deliberate attempt to “subvert or derail” the investigation “lacks substance” and “grievance of the complainant regarding non-inclusion of additional accused or omission of certain offences cannot be a ground for transfer of investigation to CBI, that too after proceedings have made some headway”.
On Tuesday morning, senior advocate R S Cheema, who has been representing the family in the High Court, requested the division bench to order a stay on the trial proceedings during pendency of the appeal.
“The crime perpetrated by the accused resulting in the death of Junaid and stab injuries to Hashim, Shakir as also beatings and humiliation to the other victims, was essentially motivated by deep-rooted communal hatred against the community of the victims, the same was well-planned and essentially incorporates the element of criminal conspiracy,” Cheema said in the plea before the division bench.
The petition stated that “the judgment (of the single-judge bench) under appeal has been passed while absolutely excluding the consideration that the transaction resulting into the death of an innocent 15-year-old boy belonging to the minority community and serious injuries to others was a totally one-sided affair.”
The family said charges for promoting religious enmity and making “statements conducive to public mischief” were excluded from the investigation because the crime had “attracted huge nationwide cry… The investigation was so managed to minimise the damage to the marauders and to ensure that most of them are released on bail and face no serious trial at all”.
The fresh plea by Junaid’s father Jalaluddin said it is “disturbing” that the “worst humiliation on the ground of religion by way of hate abuse” in the case did not “enter the judicial adjudication” in the judgment passed by the single-judge bench and despite vehement submissions, the bench “refused to look at the total picture”.
Stating that hasty trial would “defeat the ends of justice,” Cheema argued that examination of some of the witnesses would not create any legal bar for transfer of the investigation and the single-judge bench judgment “evades to answer the material issues” in the case.
“Strangely enough, the Hon’ble Single Judge says that this case has no national ramifications. In this context, the Hon’ble Single Judge does not deem it appropriate to refer to pointed arguments raised in the course of the arguments highlighting that the issue in the present case was communal polarization… it does not need any voluminous arguments that the instance like the present one, attracted worldwide attention and put the nature of the investigation and quality of adjudication under… international watch,” Cheema said.