THE Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of suspended Himachal Pradesh IPS officer Zahur Haider Zaidi, who is an accused in the Kotkhai custodial death case.
Zaidi had filed an application for interim bail for 60 days in wake of the pandemic and complained about the lack of physical distancing inside the Burail jail in Chandigarh, while also citing his history of hypertension and heart ailments. The CBI, through its counsel Sumeet Goel, opposed the bail plea and said that sufficient medical facilities are available in the jail. It added that medical documents attached by Zaidi pertained to September 2017.
“This Hon’ble court may issue necessary directions to the Jail authorities, Burail, Chandigarh to comply with the directions of the Government relating to maintaining social distancing during the present scenario of COVID-19, if jail authorities are not following the same. Further, the petitioner/accused is facing trial for heinous offences including custodial death of an innocent person,” read the CBI reply.
It added there was “sufficient oral, documentary and scientific evidence” available on record to prove that Zaidi was “actively involved in the commission of the heinous crime of causing the death of Surjaj Singh who was in custody”. The accused “himself was actively involved in causing torture” to the arrested persons and it was at his “instance” that they were tortured, the agency said further.
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. 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 Supreme Court. The IGP rank officer was taken into judicial custody on January 24 this year after the special CBI court cancelled his bail after IPS officer Soumya Sambasivan, a prosecution witness, complained to court that she was being pressured by the accused.