By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: June 9, 2020 11:10:06 pm
The trial in the 2017 case was transferred to Chandigarh on orders of the Supreme Court. (File)
THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Tuesday issued notice to the CBI on an application filed by suspended Himachal Pradesh IPS officer Zahur Haider Zaidi, an accused in the Kotkhai custodial death case, for recalling an order by which his bail plea was dismissed last month.
Zaidi, in the application, said the court during the last hearing adjourned the matter and called for the list of witnesses to be examined, while keeping the application for bail pending, after the counsel submitted that the list of witnesses belonging to Himachal Pradesh be called before considering the bail plea. However, the application adds, the order copy now made available shows that the prayer for bail stands dismissed.
The HC, in the order passed on May 21, while dismissing the bail petition, had kept the matter pending for June 9 and asked for a complete list of witnesses to be examined by the trial court and also asked the CBI to inform it about resumption of the trial, which has got disrupted following the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. In the same order, the HC also directed the trial court to examine all the material witnesses of CBI on recommencing of the trial and asked the investigating agency to submit such list immediately to the CBI court.
The case relates to the custodial death of an accused who had been arrested in a case of alleged rape and murder of a 16-year-old school girl in Kotkhai area of Shimla district. The trial in the 2017 case was transferred to Chandigarh on orders of the Supreme Court. Zaidi was first arrested on August 29, 2017, within 38 days of the central agency taking over the investigation and remained in custody for over 19 months. He was released on April 6, 2019 on orders of the Supreme Court.
The IGP rank officer was taken into judicial custody on January 24 this year after the special CBI court cancelled his bail as IPS officer Soumya Sambasivan, a prosecution witness, complained to court that she was being pressured by the accused to not depose against him.
HC Registrar also seeks modification of order
The single bench of Justice Amol Rattan Singh, in the same order on May 21, had complained about the difficulties being faced in conducting the hearings through video conferencing and directed the Registrar (Judicial) and Registrar (Computerisation) to ensure that “teething problems are put behind” now and that proper facilities are made available for the hearings. The bench had also directed them to ensure that case files are available to the court on the computer prior to the time of hearing.
The HC administration has sought modification of the order with respect to the case management through video conferencing and “highly regretted” the inconvenience.
Explaining that after physical filing of a litigation, a physical file is prepared and presented before the judge by the court staff as per procedure and when the filing is done through e-mail, a digital file is sent by the computer section to the Judge, the HC Registrar (Computerisation), Sudeep Goel, said that it is duty of the staff attached with the judge to present the same as per procedure and convenience. He said the technical staff are well trained in dealing with the technical aspects of video conferencing but they are not trained in procedural aspect of the functioning of the court as the same is specialised job of the regular court staff attached with the court.
The court was also informed in the application that the staff including secretaries and judgement writers with the courts were given training about the virtual hearings in April and May. However, the application also has added that standard operating procedure (SOPs) are being prepared for further streamlining the system and delineating clear lines of responsibility among the staff of HC’s various branches. The court in the application has been assured that no such problems will be faced in future and a thorough training is given to the court staff.
“In view of the fact that applicant was not a party to the proceedings and therefore was not able to explain the factual position to the Hon’ble Court, the applicant is filing the instant application for recalling/modification…,” the application filed by Goel reads
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