56 witnesses without a case - All eyes on interim high court order

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  • Published 16.10.07

The high court will issue on Tuesday an interim order on the plea seeking a CBI probe into Rizwanur Rahman’s mysterious death.

The hearing on the petition, filed by Rizwanur’s family, ended on Monday.

Legal experts said Justice Soumitra Pal’s decision to issue an interim ruling suggests that he will not dismiss the petition.

What, they feel, is weighing on the judge’s mind is the question of the CID’s right to interrogate so many people — 56 at the last count — in connection with the 30-year-old graphic designer’s death on September 21, without a case being filed.

Kalyan Banerjee, the petitioner’s lawyer, claimed that since no case had been filed, the statements of all those questioned do not have any legal validity. “Which means the CID probe is a farce,” he added.

“The judge’s decision to pass an interim order is significant. Contrary to the expectations of the police and the state, the court is not likely to reject the petition on the grounds of its maintainability,” said a criminal lawyer.

Moreover, he pointed out, the judge may ask the CID to file an affidavit stating specific sections of the CrPC that empowered the sleuths to summon witnesses and record their statements.

During Monday’s hearing, the court had also taken note of a point raised by Banerjee, challenging the legality of the summons issued under Section 175 of CrPC. One such summons, served on Trinamul Congress MLA Javed Ahmed Khan on October 10, was produced in court.

“The CID is claiming that it had called 56 people to record their statements on the death. How can the investigating agency do so without initiating a case?” Banerjee asked.

Citing the CrPC manual, Banerjee argued that the CID had no authority to issue summons for collecting evidence under Section 175.

Government lawyers, however, told Metro that they were ready to submit affidavits if the court asks for them. “The advocate-general and the lawyers appearing for the police officers named in the case had assured the court that they were ready to submit affidavits, if needed,” one of the state lawyers said.

Ashoke Mukherjee, appearing for Snehasish Ganguly, elder brother of Sourav, submitted that his client had taken the Todis, Rizwanur’s in-laws, to police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee under “social obligation”.

“As there is no criminal allegation against my client, his name should be expunged from the list of respondents,” Mukherjee pleaded.

Opposing Mukherjee’s plea, the Rahmans’ lawyer said: “Ganguly’s social obligation had prompted the city police chief to ask deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Gyanwant Singh and other senior officers to take up the case. Ganguly’s intervention had also prompted the police chief to announce that Rizwanur had committed suicide.”