The J-K High Court, setting a three-day deadline for the CBI to complete the identification parade of all those named by the minor victim in the Srinagar sex abuse case, today authorised the agency to ‘‘conduct custodial interrogation of any of them before or after the identification’’.
The court also directed the CBI to subject the prime accused, Sabeena, to ‘‘sustained interrrogation’’ after the agency pleaded that she was setting conditions for recording her complete statement.
The agency was also directed to interrogate any person failing or refusing to report for identification. The court said the proceedings will be held ‘in camera’ from the next date of hearing on June 2. CBI today told the court that of the 23 called for identification, 12 have been identified and three arrested. Several had not turned up.
The order came after the lawyers of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association, argued against the identification parade. Bar President Mian Abdul Qayoom pleaded that the statement of the victim naming VIPs was sufficient for the CBI to make arrests. He questioned the need for the identification parade saying ‘‘…the victim has named politicians, senior police officers and bureaucrats, whom a 15-year-old poor girl wouldn’t ordinarily know’’. Zafar Shah, another Bar Counsel requested that the investigation be made accused-specific rather than victim-specific. ‘‘…We have to see why she spontaneously named the persons, she wouldn’t ordinarily know. Her statement is therefore of the highest credibility…,’’ he argued.
The court took serious note of the fact that only a few of those named by the victim had been interrogated. ‘‘…The rest have not been interrogated either by the police or the CBI even though sufficient time was available for the purpose,’’ the Division Bench comprising Justice Hakeem Imtiaz Hussain and Justice B A Kirmani observed.
The court ordered the constitution of ‘‘at least four teams’’ by the CBI for simultaneous investigations ‘‘into all limbs of the case’’.
The court, reprimanding the CBI for being lenient to Sabeena, observed, ‘‘Why are you not interrogating her? How come she is putting conditions? Where does she derive the confidence from…?’’
The Court also barred access to the victim, including that of her parents till the investigation is over, after CBI told the court that the girl had failed to identify an ‘‘additional SP named in her statement. The Bar argued it could be because she may have been influenced by her father who visits her off and on.