The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a show cause notice to the Centre and the State of Jammu Kashmir on a habeas corpus petition to locate Mr. Sameer Bhat, the Jammu and Kashmir Police constable who went missing last month.
The Court further directed the respondents to submit a status report within 10 days, and posted the matter for hearing on 19 June.
The Petition has been filed by Mr. M.K. Pandita, who has further demanded that the investigation into the matter be transferred to the CBI or the NIA, in order to ensure a “fair and speedy investigation”.
Sameer Bhat, 27, was originally from Pampore, and had joined Kashmir Police in 2008 as Constable, SOG, at Cargo Camp Shergarhi Police Station, Srinagar. He had gone missing on 14 May, after having left Srinagar with his colleague and friend, Eijaz Ahmed. During the Police investigation, however, Mr. Ahmed had allegedly confessed to have murdered Mr. Bhat.
Subsequently, a Special Investigation Team was constituted by I.G. Police, Srinagar. The SIT had thereafter announced in a press briefing that Mr. Bhat was murdered by Mr. Ahmed after the former had sexually assaulted the latter.
The investigation was thereafter transferred from the SIT to the local Police at Handwara Police Station, District Kupwara. This has been opposed by the Petitioner, who has contended, “Thus, the investigation progressing under SIT has been abruptly stalled midway for obvious reasons, i.e. to protect their local policeman Eijaz Ahmed in whose favour the police concocted story of sexual assault by Sameer to provide motive for his disappearance.”
Mr. Pandita further contends that Mr. Bhat has to be presumed to be alive and in captivity until his body is recovered. He says that till such time, the possibility of him being kept in confinement by the terrorists in league with Eijaz Ahmed cannot be completely ruled out. The authorities have also been accused of being biased due to Mr. Ahmed being a local Kashmiri.
"The desparate father of Sameer requested the petitioner to approach this Hon’ble Court so that directions may be issued to locate his son Sameer and produce him before the Court (writ of habeas corpus) and if he is dead then his body may be recovered so that his last rites could be performed and prayer meeting could be held for the peace of the departed sole, and also to transfer the case for investigation to CBI or NIA or any other independent agency as the family of Sameer has lost faith in local police by its lethargic conduct",states the Petition.
“… the callous and lackadaisical approach of the local police under respondent No.2 leaves no doubt that every effort is being made to thwart and hamper investigation by taking it over from SIT and transferring it to Handwara Police Station, District Kupwara, solely aimed at delaying investigation so that in the meanwhile evidence gets destroyed,” the Petition therefore states.
Read the Petition here.