In the on-going probe of the Vadodara Custodial Death Case, the Gujarat High Court on Monday (28th September) reminded the Investigating Officer (a Senior officer from State CID Mr Girish Pandya) that "truth is the motto and object of every investigation and in the instant case, all the accused are police personnel who are supposed to be well versed with all possible tactics to overreach the process of law, extraordinary care would be expected on his part." (emphasis supplied)
The Bench of Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice N. V. Anjaria further said,
"The IO is to constantly remind himself that this crime is allegedly committed while on duty where the corpus is said to have been tortured in custody and alleged to have been done away with mercilessly and the incident was glossed over till revealed in this petition." (emphasis supplied)
On Monday (28th September), a senior officer from State CID Mr. Girish Pandya, IPS remained present before the Court. The case diary from 06.07.2020 till 11.09.2020 was shared along with the statements of the witnesses as also the request made to learned JMFC, Baroda for Lie Detection Test of the accused.
Background of the matter
A petition was preferred by the petitioner Shaikh Salim Shaikh Babu, who was aggrieved by the fact that his father, namely Shaikh Babu Shaikh @ Rahim Shaikh Vajir, aged 65 years, is missing since 10.12.2019.
It was, further, his grievance that he repeatedly approached the respondent-police authorities and also gave written applications, but no heed is paid to his requests and not a single reply is received with regard to the whereabouts of the corpus, till date.
He submitted that his father used to come to Ahmedabad and resided at a rented apartment No. 509, Moin Apartment from Kamareddy, Telangana.
He is said to have a retail business of clothes and by obtaining a parking pass from the Western Railway cycle stand, he was doing his business.
It is alleged that on 09.12.2019, his father had gone to Vadodara Railway Station to get his bicycle and from there, he was taken to Fatehganj Police Station for interrogation and since then, they have not heard of him.
The Court on 19-06-2020 had ordered that the corpus be PRODUCED before the court, on the returnable date (24th June, 2020).
However, the police machinery couldn't trace the missing person in question despite Court's several orders to this effect.
Further, a First Information Report came to be lodged being ICR No. 111960122061 of 2020 on 06.07.2020 at Fatehganj Police Station, Vadodara City for the offences punishable under Sections 302, 201, 203, 204 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code against some police officers (committed against the missing person in question).
Mr. S.G.Patil, Additional Commissioner of Police, Division was the first informant. The investigation of the said FIR was also handed over to the ACP, B-Division, Vadodara City.
Significantly, on 05th August 2020 the Court acceded to the request of change of investigating agency rather than permitting some more time in the matter to the present agency as that may further result in loss of vital evidence
The Court ordered that the investigation be handed over to the CID Crime. The officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police shall be handed over the investigation and the same shall be supervised by the officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General.
It was directed that the selection of the officers shall be done by the Director General of Police who shall decide the name of Superintendent of Police and also the officer who will supervise the entire investigation.
Court's Observations on Monday (28th September)
The Court was provided with the road map of investigation and it was ensured that the best possible endeavours would be made to go to the root of the matter.
Mr. Girish Pandya further added that once the Court of Learned JMFC permits the Lie Detection Test, as and when deemed appropriate during the course of the investigation, further scientific tests also shall be requested for.
The Court remarked,
"Let no stone be left unturned and every possible attempt be made to go to the root of the matter. There must not be any scope of either laxity or soft paddling at any stage of investigation which is not only impermissible, but would also prove to be deleterious for the system." (emphasis supplied)
The Court said that periodical reporting also shall be needed till the whereabouts of the corpus is found with substantive and scientific proof.
The Matter has been further scheduled for hearing on 15.10.2020 where the case diary shall be shared with the Court along with the progress in the the investigation, 24 hours advance.
The Investigating Officer has been directed to remain present through video conferencing also on the next date of hearing.
Case Title: Sheikh Salim Shekhbabu v. State Of Gujarat & 2 others
Case No.: Special Criminal Application No. 2595 of 2020
Quorum: Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice N. V. Anjaria
Appearance: Advocate Imtiyaj M. Kureshi (for the Applicant); Public Prosecutor Mitesh Amin With APP Ms Jirga Jhaveri (for the Respondent No. 1).
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