Free Press Journal

Himachal HC summons CBI chief in schoolgirl’s gang rape, murder case


Shimla: Raising questions pertaining to the CBI probe so far into the gang rape and murder of a schoolgirl and the subsequent custodial death of an accused, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Wednesday summoned the agency’s Director.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation chief to file an affidavit on the probe status.

The court listed the case for April 18. “It has been more than eight months that this court entrusted the investigation to the CBI… we are only reminded of the fact that the crime relates to the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl child, which evoked great anger and pain. Are we to understand that CBI officers are not competent enough to unearth the crime of such nature within eight months?”

The court further said: “After all, as we understand, it is not a case of destruction of evidence. It is also not that investigation is to be conducted in a foreign land or offshore. There is also no inkling that the crime may have been committed by a foreign national.

“Now, if the investigation is to be carried out within the state, why is it that such process cannot be hastened by deputing more persons with greater experience and expertise? Let the CBI Director file a personal affidavit indicating fresh status.”

The bench expressed surprise and dismay over the CBI’s status report and wondered if it was worth granting more extensions to the agency team camping in the state capital Shimla since July 22 last regarding investigations.

Both the gang rape and the murder case and that pertaining to the subsequent custodial death of an accused are being monitored by the High Court and are being investigated by the CBI.

Police said the schoolgirl was offered a lift in a vehicle by the accused on July 4 last year while she was returning home from school in Kotkhai town, 56 km from here.

On the way, the accused and his associates raped and murdered her in a nearby forest. Her naked body with injury marks was found two days later.

The arrested accused were prime accused Rajinder Singh, who offered her the lift, Ashish Chauhan, Subhash Bisht, Deepak Kumar, Suraj Singh (since deceased) and Lokjan. Currently, all the accused are on bail.

However, there was a new twist in the case after Rajinder Singh allegedly murdered Suraj Singh in the police lock-up on July 19. After the CBI took over, nine policemen, including Inspector General of Police Z.H. Zaidi and former Shimla Superintendent of Police D.W. Negi, were arrested on the charge of custodial death. They are in judicial custody.

Zaidi was head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the case before the CBI took over.