The Himachal Pradesh High Court pulled up the CBI on Wednesday for remaining “clueless” in the murder and rape case of a 16-year-old school girl in Shimla even after three months of investigation.
A special bench of the High Court, comprising acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma, also criticised the central investigation agency for not taking up the job seriously. The High Court had taken suo motu cognisance based on media reports and transferred the case to the CBI on July 19.
The bench asked CBI’s counsel Anshul Bansal, “Please tell us honestly if you (CBI) are not able to investigate or reach a conclusion”. The court observed during the 25-minute hearing that the CBI, being the country’s premier investigating agency, could do an overnight probe if it wanted but it was slow in this case. “If not the CBI, should we ask the NIA?” the bench asked.
Justice Karol said the status report filed by the CBI didn’t have anything new and rest of the report was same as was filed earlier. “It’s totally clueless,” the acting CJ said, adding that why shouldn’t the CBI Director, Alok Verma, be summoned. The court had held four different hearings between August 2 to September 21 without much success.
The 16-year-old girl went missing on July 4 while she was on her way back home from school. Two days later, her body was found dumped in the Halaila forests.The postmortem report had confirmed she was raped and murdered. The incident had triggered widespread protests in Shimla and surrounding areas. Social activists, students and opposition parties, including the CPM, led huge demonstrations against the state government and police.
After taking over the probe, the CBI arrested eight police officers, including IGP Zahur Zaidi, who headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was formed by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh after the protests. The SIT had arrested six people, but one Suraj Singh, a Nepali national, died in Kotkhai police custody on July 18. An irate mob later set the Kotkhai police station on fire. The CBI has not even filed the chargesheet in the custodial death case, making the arrested policemen wait for their bails. One accused, Ashish Chauhan, son of an orchardist, has applied for bail.