M A I N   N E W S

Police to approach court to end Kohli's
custody ahead of time
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
In an attempt to pave the way for Maninderpal Singh Kohli's early extradition, the Punjab Police has reportedly decided to approach the Kharar court for ending his police custody ahead of time. Kohli had on Wednesday confessed to raping and murdering 17-year-old British school girl Hannah Foster. He was remanded to police custody till August 5.

The sources at the Punjab Police headquarters claimed that Kohli was likely to be produced before the court within a day or so with a request to end his police custody before the expiry of the specified period.

The development is significant as the Punjab Police was reportedly under tremendous pressure from the UK police to act fast. A letter in this regard was also received by the police authorities here. The exact contents of the letter were not known.

Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui, when contacted, said they had all the facts they wanted. As such Kohli was no longer required by the police for further questioning.

"We will be informing the court about this," the DGP asserted. "You see, we want to hand him over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as early as possible".

Refuting the allegations that the Punjab Police had failed to give wide publicity to the matter, the DGP said Kohli's photographs had been circulated all across the country. "Normally people do not take notice of such things," he said. "In the current case, the residents reacted only after an emotional appeal was made by Hannah Foster's parents".

He added: "In fact, the media failed to give the case the kind of publicity that was required. They waited for good 16 months to flash the photographs on page one of the newspapers and that also after her parents arrived in the country in connection with the matter".

The sources added that the case registered against Kohli and his family would not prove to be an hindrance in his extradition as it was lodged to secure his presence in the area. The sources further claimed that the legal system in the UK was "faster" compared to India. The trial was not likely to take more than a month-and-a-half to conclude even though the same would have continued for years in the country, the sources asserted.

They reveal that Kohli was today interrogated about his whereabouts by the Punjab Police during the period he was on the run. He was also questioned about money transactions before he was taken to Patiala for further questioning by Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai. Meanwhile, legal luminaries today claimed that Kohli's confession had little or no legal sanctity. They asserted that confession before the police, which did not lead to disclosure, was not legally valid.

Criminal lawyer Surinder Kumar Garg, practising in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said the police should have got the confession recorded before a Magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC if at all they were serious about the matter. Another criminal lawyer Amar Singh Chahal said the entire thing was "nothing, but a farce". Mr Anil Pal Singh Shergill, also practising in the High Court, said in most of the cases the accused backtracked after confessing crime before the police.


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