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Kashmir unrest: Satisfied with probe, SC quashes contempt against top J&K police officers

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New Delhi Top police officers of Jammu and Kashmir have been exonerated from contempt charges by the Supreme Court which accepted the probe findings of the state police that a 26-year-old youth was killed by pellet injuries in 2016 and not shot at point-blank during massive protests as alleged by his father.

The top court said that the report of autopsy conducted on the body of Shabir Ahmad Mir after exhuming it, has found that “the fired lead pellets correspond to the shot from a standard shotgun cartridge” and “the CFSL report also established recovery of pellets from the dead body, which rules out the use of pistol as alleged”.

 A bench of justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul quashed the contempt proceedings initiated against SSP, Srinagar and the IGP, Jammu & Kashmir and said that even the father, mother and sister of the deceased have retracted from their version in statements recorded before the magistrate.

The bench said Jammu and Kashmir Police has concluded the investigation and filed the charge sheet before the trial court against the stone-pelters, who had attacked the police officials, CRPF and SSB personnel on July 10, 2016 in Tengpora area under the Batamaloo police station of Srinagar.

“We, having taken note of the aforesaid pleas, there being no representation on behalf of the respondent (father), are constrained to conclude that nothing further is required to be done in the matter. The question raised, in the present Special Leave Petition has become infructuous, we leave the question of law open. The contempt proceedings sought to be initiated against the SSP, Srinagar and the IGP, Jammu & Kashmir are quashed,” the bench said.

The top court disposed of the appeal of state government after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and advocate Shoeb Alam said that trial in the case is in progress and all relevant materials are placed before the court including the post mortem, CFSL and ballistic reports.

Mehta said that the apex court had on August 9, 2016 stayed the contempt proceedings and on August 12, 2016 directed the state authorities to investigate the version of the father of the deceased and conduct the autopsy after exhuming the body under the supervision of the Principal District and Sessions Judge, Srinagar.

Abdul Rehman Mir, father of the deceased had alleged that his son was shot by a police official at his home from a point blank range on July 10.

Jammu and Kashmir Police had claimed that the youth had died after sustaining injuries during the protests in the Valley.

“The conclusion of the report is that the complainant himself has not corroborated the contents of the complaint despite statement being recorded under Section 164A of the CrPC. The CFSL report also established recovery of pellets from the dead body, which rules out the use of pistol as alleged,” the bench said.

Mehta said that there cannot be two FIRs for the same incident which is a settled law and the allegations of father of the deceased has been found to be false after the investigation and forensic report.

The bench after taking into account the submissions of the ASG and Alam disposed of the petition of the state government by which it had challenged the order of Jammu and Kashmir High Court refusing to quash the second FIR order of trial court.

On September 26, 2016, the state government has claimed that the post mortem report belied the claim of the victim’s father that he was shot by policemen from a point blank range.

The government had said that it is not treating the petition as an adversarial litigation and voiced concern over young persons getting involved in disturbances.

The apex court had earlier stayed contempt proceedings initiated against the Senior Superintendent of Police and Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) for not lodging an FIR against the policemen, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), allegedly involved in the killing of Mir.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar, had on July 18, 2016 directed the SSP to lodge a FIR against DSP Yasir Qadri and others on an application of Mir’s father despite their being one FIR already lodged by the police on July 10, 2016, against the stone pelters on the same incident.

Later, contempt proceedings were initiated by the CJM for non-filing of the FIR against the two top police officers in connection with the incident.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on August 4, 2016, refused to quash the two orders of trial court by which FIR was directed to be lodged on the same incident and the contempt proceeding against the police officials.

The family of the deceased had earlier contested the state’s plea, claiming the killing to be a separate incident which had nothing to do with the FIR registered by the police.

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