The Telegraph
Friday , July 5 , 2013
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Monitor HC fries 15-day diktat

Calcutta, July 4: Calcutta High Court stepped in to “monitor” the probe into the Kamduni rape and murder a day after a trial court hauled up the CID for a chargesheet riddled with holes.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi said it was a “hurriedly filed” chargesheet and “no one can direct the investigators to submit a chargesheet within 15 days”.

The court took no names, but chief minister Mamata Banerjee had promised a chargesheet within 15 days during a visit to Kamduni 10 days after a college student was brutalised and killed.

The following is the sequence of events at Room No. 1, where proceedings before the division bench of Chief Justice Mishra and Justice Bagchi took place on Thursday.

12.10pm: The PIL comes up for hearing.

Advocate-general (AG) Bimal Chatterjee is representing the state government; advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya is the counsel for the petitioner.

Looking at the AG, Chief Justice Mishra asks: Have you finished your probe?

AG: In respect of three accused, it has been done. The CID is yet to complete the probe as the forensic experts are busy in Uttarakhand. If you give us a month, we will be able to enlighten the court about the progress of the case.

Chief Justice Mishra: All right, this court is adjourning the hearing of the case till July 30. But mind it. The court will monitor the investigation. We will be keeping our eyes on the matter. The government is directed to come before the court that day with all relevant documents related to the investigation.

Advocate Bhattacharyya stands up.

Bhattacharyya: The judge handling the case in Barasat court made some serious comments. He expressed his displeasure over the process the CID had adopted during the course of filing the chargesheet. The chief minister had announced that the chargesheet would be submitted within 15 days.

Justice Bagchi (looking at the AG): Don’t be so populist. We have regard in our judicial system.

Chief Justice Mishra (stretching out his right hand): Hurriedly filed chargesheet. No one can direct the investigators to submit a chargesheet within 15 days.

The PIL had sought a special investigation team picked by the court to do the job under its supervision. “We want the real culprits involved in the heinous crime to be arrested and penalised. At the same time… the court should ask the state government to provide lawyers for the accused,” Bhattacharyya said.

The advocate-general said: “We assure the court that the culprits will be punished.”

Although the CID has charged all the accused with gang rape and murder, lawyers said most of the accused could get away with far lighter offences because of the manner in which the CID has framed the chargesheet.

It says only one person — Saiful Ali, 28, — had raped, killed and dumped the girl. The others arrived later and were only seen speaking or moving around suspiciously.

“Their physical distance from the crime scene during the rape, murder and disposal of the body virtually absolves them of those two charges,” a lawyer pointed out. “The chargesheet also says that the other accused heard of the crime from Saiful, which means they can also not be accused of conspiracy,” the lawyer added.

In Barasat, the third fast-track court, which yesterday refused to accept the chargesheet, rejected it again today. It will hear the case on July 12 and decide whether charges against the accused can be framed on the basis of the chargesheet.

The judge allowed lawyers outside the government to fight the case on behalf of the victim’s family. “We had petitioned the court. We do not have faith in the public prosecutor,” said Ranjit Saha, a lawyer.