KOCHI: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday set aside the single-judge bench’s order directing the government to hand over the case related to the murder of Youth Congress leader S P Shuhaib, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar issued the order on an appeal filed by the state government against the CBI probe.
While endorsing the probe by the Kerala Police, the bench observed, “We are deeply disturbed by the unfortunate turn of events that led to the tragic and gruesome end of the hapless victim who was in the prime of his youth. Crimes that have their roots in political rivalry are on the increase in our state and we (court) are appalled by the extremity of the measures adopted by the perpetrators of the crime. The perpetrators of the crime need to be quickly apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced, for, then alone will our citizenry have confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Shuhaib was murdered at Edayannur in Kannur on February 12, 2018.Appearing for the state government, Supreme Court lawyer Vijay Hansaria and public prosecutor Suman Chakravarthy submitted that the investigation was completed and chargesheet filed on May 14 last year, the state submitted.
The parents of the deceased never opted to challenge the final report highlighting the lapses in the investigation, if any. Materials on record and the evidence collected during the probe do not make out that it was a case of terrorist act to invoke the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the state submitted.
The bench observed there was hardly any material available before the single-judge bench that could have led it to assume that the probe was unfair or biased in any manner. The conclusion by the single judge with regard to the unfairness of the investigation was based solely on the finding that the investigating authority had not recovered the weapons in spite of the arrest of two prime accused. If the single-judge bench wanted to get further details on the investigation, it could have asked for the production of the case diary in the court. But, due to reasons that are not very clear, it chose not to do so. It did not grant any opportunity to the state to file a counter-affidavit. These omissions of the single-judge bench, without anything more, vitiate the directive issued by it to transfer the investigation of the case to the CBI, it stated.
“Such a hasty direction was not warranted based on the facts and circumstances of the case,” observed the division bench.The court said the single-judge’s order was stayed by it when the appeal came up for hearing. During the pendency of the appeal, the police had completed the investigation and filed two final reports before the magistrate court concerned. The petitioners, however, did not approach the criminal court against the ongoing investigation under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This inaction of the petitioners “impinges upon the bona fides of their claim that there was no fair investigation”, the court stated.The division bench also slammed the directive of the single-judge bench to slap UAPA charges on the accused in the case.
Family, Cong to move SC
C P Muhammad, father of Shuhaib, said the family and the Congress would approach the Supreme Court against the High Court order. “We will fight till justice is delivered. The real culprits are roaming freely in the district. The government is afraid of a CBI investigation as it knows well that many of the CPM leaders in the district were involved in the conspiracy,” he said.
No need to invoke UAPA, says High Court
Kochi: The Division Bench on Friday slammed the directive of the single-judge bench to slap UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) charges on the accused in the Shuhaib murder case. The single-judge bench had opined that Shuhaib murder is a clear case which comes under the category of ‘terrorist act’. Hence, the matter has to be investigated incorporating offences under the UAPA against the accused persons. However, the Division Bench held that there was no material before the court to invoke the Act and that the opinion could not have been the basis for the direction to entrust the probe with the CBI. The court made it clear that the judgment quashing the order for a CBI probe will not stand in the way of victim’s family in pursuing the remedies available to them, according to the law, relating to the investigation or trial in the case.