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J&K sex racket cases shifted to Chandigarh
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 4
In view of the hostile atmosphere against sex racket accused in valley, the Supreme Court today transferred the cases of 14 persons, including two former ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, from a Srinagar Sessions court to District and Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, for trial after they have been chargesheeted by the CBI.

The transfer was ordered by a bench of Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Mr Justice C K Thakker after the CBI also supported their transfer plea while counsel for the accused said their clients faced threat to life. They were also not getting any local lawyer to plead their cases because of the boycott call by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.

The Court said howsoever serious the charges might be against the accused, an accused has a right of free and fair trial and more so it was an accepted principle that “justice should not only be done but seen to be done.”

The Court said that the District and Sessions Judge, Chandigarh, would either hear the cases himself or allocate them to any other judge and henceforth for all purposes the jurisdiction of Punjab and Haryana High Court would prevail in the transferred matters.

Besides, the two former ministers G A Mir and Raman Matto, J & K government Principal Secretary Mohd Iqbal Khanday, suspended BSF DIG K C Padhi, state police DSP Mohd Yousif Mir, former Additional Advocate General Anil Sethi, sex racket kingpin Sabeena, her husband Abdul Hamid Bullah, advocate Shabir Ahmed Laway were the main accused among the 14 whose cases were transferred.

The Court said the transfer orders would not affect the monitoring of the CBI probe by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in other cases and the agency would make efforts to expedite the investigation against other accused.

Solicitor General G E Vahanvati, appearing for CBI, told the Court that so far 18 persons were arrested and the chargesheets had been filed against 14 of them while the probe against the others wee continuing.

The Court also disposed of CBI’s special leave petition (SLP) against the High Court’s August 11 order, in which a direction was issued for custodial interrogation of the accused persons, which the agency interpreted as open ended direction to interrogate any suspected person in custody.

But the apex court clarified that the High Court direction should not be read in isolation as the combined effect of the entire paragraphs in its order was that the custodial interrogation was to be conducted of those persons against whom sufficient material was gathered by CBI.

The apex court also rejected the allegations of Bar Association against CBI that it was “shielding” some influential persons and top officers of the agency were not giving its Investigating Officer (IO) permission to go ahead with their arrest after perusing the case diary.



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