CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court today gave the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing allegations of rape at Murthal near Sonipat during the 2016 Jat agitation, a one-month deadline to conclude investigations.
The court also directed that IPS officer Amitabh Dhillon, presently IG, Hisar Range, will head another SIT to look into cases of alleged rioting, violence, arson etc, during the Jat reservation stir, other than the Murthal case.
The court had earlier taken a suo motu cognizance of a media report regarding alleged rapes in Murthal during the quota stir.
When the matter related to Murthal came up for hearing before a division bench comprising Justice S S Saron and Justice Avneesh Jhingan, the chief of the SIT probing the case, IG Mamta Singh, came under criticism from senior advocate Anupam Gupta, who is assisting the court as 'amicus curiae'.
"The head of the SIT has been submitting status reports from time to time. Seven to eight reports have already been given by her. As per her last report, no victim, no witness of the Murthal rape case has been found," he said.
According to Gupta, he apprised the court that there was no new input in the SIT report even after one and half years of investigation. They have failed to find any victim, he said.
"I said that I do not have any confidence in the head of the SIT and sought directions that the Murthal rape case issue be handed over to the CBI," Gupta later said giving details of the day's proceedings.
After hearing the arguments, the High Court bench decided to give a one-month deadline to the Mamta Singh headed SIT to conclude investigations, he added.
The court also said that if after one month nothing substantial comes out from the SIT's side, then it will examine whether to send the case to CBI, Gupta said.
According to the senior lawyer, the court had earlier said that another SIT must be constituted for the other cases that allegedly happened during the stir.
The Haryana home secretary had submitted ten names from which to choose the head of this SIT, Gupta said.
"I had taken time to study those names. Today, I said that I have negative feedback about those names and instead proposed the name of IPS officer Dhillon. I told the court that he is competent, honest and has had a stint with the CBI," Gupta said.
The court accepted my plea and Dhillon has been appointed as the head of this SIT, he added.
"Dhillon will act independently, report to the High Court and probe all cases that happened in the violence during the stir other than the Murthal rape case," Gupta said.
He said the court also heard five cases related to Haryana Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu's family, including the burning down of their house in Rohtak in the violence during the Jat reservation stir last year.
"The state government had suo motu sent these cases to the CBI. The High Court today asked the CBI to file a status report in these cases," Gupta said.
He said the court will now hear the Murthal rape case and other cases connected with violence during the reservation agitation, on October 12.