The case of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday by the Delhi High Court. The decision was taken by a two-member bench comprising Justices GS Sistani and Rekha Palli after Najeeb’s mother filed a plea with the court. Delhi Police said it had no problem with the decision.
The court has given directions that the investigation will be headed by an officer who will not be below the rank of a Deputy Inspector General. The court will hear the matter next on July 17, 2017.
What is the case?
Najeeb Ahmed (27), a first-year M.Sc. student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of Biotechnology, allegedly had a scuffle outside his room in JNU’s Mahi-Mandvi hostel with three members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on the night of October 14. He went missing a day later. The ABVP was accused by the then JNUSU body of kidnapping Najeeb. ABVP has, however, maintained it has no role in Najeeb’s mysterious disappearance.
A complaint was filed in the nearby Vasant Kunj (North) Police Station by Najeeb’s family. He is said to be missing since 11 am on October 15. The Delhi Police registered an FIR under Section 365 of the Indian Penal Code (kidnapping with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person). An award of Rs 50,000 was announced for any information relating to Najeeb and his disappearance.
The JNU administration has come under flak from various quarters for alleged laxity in the matter. In a press release by the JNU administration, Najeeb Ahmed was named as an accused in the brawl that happened inside his hostel. Students have persisted with their ‘Justice for Najeeb’ and ‘Where is Najeeb’ campaigns.
Meanwhile, ABVP leader Saurabh Sharma had claimed that Najeeb admitted to have slapped an ABVP member named Vikrant Kumar when the trio went to his room. He added that then he was asked to leave his hostel by October 21.
A proctorial inquiry was initiated by the JNU administration. The inquiry found ABVP member Vikrant Kumar guilty of assaulting Najeeb Ahmed during the scuffle on October 14. “In the proctorial inquiry, Vikrant Kumar has been found to be involved in hitting Najeeb Ahmed and using derogatory language with provocative behaviour on October 14. This is an act of indiscipline and misconduct,” an official order read. He was directed to submit his defence as to why disciplinary action should not be initiated against him. ABVP member and former member of the JNUSU Saurabh Sharma had questioned the inquiry of being one-sided. “The proctor has taken deposition of those students into account who were not even present there. Not only the inquiry is biased but even the administration is siding with the left-dominated students union.”
In October, the Delhi Police had formed a special investigation team to trace out Najeeb, who hails from Badaun in Uttar Pradesh. The SIT was headed by Additional DCP-II (South) Manishi Chandra. The SIT, though, did not make any breakthrough and the case was subsequently transferred to the Delhi Police Crime Branch.
Nine students are named as suspects in the case and the High Court had directed the police to conduct polygraph tests and explore other leads.
“The student had gone missing in October 2016; it is February now. Nearly four months have gone by and none of the leads are going anywhere. We asked for a polygraph test as the other leads have not yielded any results,” the Court had observed in February this year.
The observations were given while the bench was hearing an application by one of the nine suspects that sought a recall of the High Court’s order of December 14 and December 22, 2016. It said that by these orders, the court was regulating the investigation and the manner in which it would move ahead alleging that this was prejudicing the probe. It added that the orders violated the fundamental rights promised under Articles 21 and Article 22 of the Constitution of India.
The same applicant had challenged a notice he received from the police directing him to appear in trial court to give consent or refusal for a lie detector test. The High Court had already disposed of a similar plea filed by the same applicant through another lawyer. The court had asked him to come ahead and join the investigation. The counsel of Delhi government highlighted this point to oppose his application.
Delhi Police had said that it was unable to conduct lie detection tests of the nine suspects as none of the students has responded to the notices. A plea of habeas corpus was moved prior by Najeeb’s mother Fatima Nafees seeking orders for the investigation agencies to trace her son.
Delhi Police has put a reward of Rs 10 lakh to the person who provides information about Najeeb.