SC Stops Arrest Of Army Officer

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Rawalpora Disappearance Case 

SRINAGAR:The Supreme Court of India has directed police not to arrest an army Brigadier in connection with the custodial disappearance of a man, Manzoor Ahmad Dar from Rawalpora here in 2002.

However, a division bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy directed the Brigadier Kishore Malhotra to cooperate with the police in its investigation into the disappearance.

“Brig. Kishore Malhotra shall not be arrested by the police authorities but he will participate in the enquiry and co-operate with the investigating agency,” the bench said.

The apex court passed the order while hearing a special leave petition filed by union of India against J&K high court’s July 7 order, which had directed police’s special investigation team (SIT) to arrest Malhotra, who was working as a Major in 2002.

Dar, a chemist, was picked up from his home at Rawalpora during the intervening night January 18/19 in 2002. Following massive protests, the police station Saddar here filed an FIR under section 364 and during the investigation, the name of Col Kishore Malhotra surfaced as an accused.

“The SIT directed to investigate the matter failed to realise that Manzoor Ahmad Dar has not been seen after he was picked up by Major Kishore Malhotra and other armed forces of 35 Rashtriya Rifles during the intervening night of January 18 and 19, 2002, and has been allegedly subjected to custodial disappearance,” the J&K high court had said in its order in a petition filed by Manzoor’s wife, Ms Jana.

“Instead of approaching the authorities for prosecution of Major Kishore for an offence punishable under section 364 RPC, the SIT should have arrested Major Kishore and subjected him to custodial interrogation and should have taken the investigation ahead to find out the circumstances (under which) Manzoor Ahmad Dar was picked up and whether he was subjected to custodial disappearance,” the court said and directed the SIT to proceed with the investigation, “touching the aforementioned aspects of the case.”

During the course of investigation, the police recorded statements of various witnesses, including Jana and her daughter Bilquees. Both of them revealed that Malhotra, who was then posted at Old Airport Srinagar, knew the circumstances leading to Dar’s abduction and subsequent disappearance.

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