Kupwara Murders: HC ‘Anguished’ at ‘Callous’ Police Probe

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has expressed ‘anguish’ over “shoddy and callous” police investigation into murder of a couple in Kupwara in 2007, underling that perpetrators have “gone unpunished and are roaming free!”  

 “We also like to record our anguish at the callous and shoddy manner in which the investigation has been conducted by the police. The result being that the perpetrator or perpetrators of the double murder have gone unpunished and are roaming free!” said a division bench Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while dismissing an acquittal appeal by state against Principal Sessions Judge Kupwara’s judgment on 8 December 2010. 

According to prosecution, Shahzaman Khan son of Syed Rehman Khan and his wife Mst Fatima Jan were killed in the intervening night of January31 and February 1, 2007 at Nageethha Manigah in the frontier district. 

Subquently by police filed an FIR and its investigation revealed that Shahzaman Khan was married to Mst Fatima Jan but they were issueless. Consequently, Shazaman wanted to contract a second marriage with the idea of having children. The police said that one of the accused, Bashir Ahmad Khan, arranged the second marriage with a Bengali lady and took a sum of Rs. 20,000-25,000 from Shazaman for the purpose. However, the second marriage did not last very long as the Bengali lady left the matrimonial home after one year and was not to be located, the prosecution said. 

There was an allegation that there was a dispute regarding Rs. 20,000-25,000. The police claimed that another accused Mir Qasim, brother of Shazaman, had the motive of grabbing his property and, therefore, he along with Bashir Ahmad Khan and the other three accused—Gulzar Ahmad Kataria, Shahzad Ahmad Kataria and Farooq Ahmad Moughal, hatched a conspiracy to do away with Shazaman and his wife Mst Fatima Jan. 

The prosecution said that as a result of the conspiracy, Shazaman and Fatima were murdered. Shazaman’s body was found outside his house while Fatima’s body was found inside the house.  

“We are at pains to understand as to how the State could have preferred an acquittal appeal against these accused when the Public Prosecutor had fairly and frankly conceded the case against them, and the state has not been able to point out anything which would indicate that the concession was not borne by the record,’ the court said, referring to statement by Public Prosecutor’s before trial court that the evidence adduced by the prosecution does not at all prove the involvement of accused in the commission of murder.

 “We do not see any reason whatsoever to disagree with the view of the trial Court and the conclusions arrived at by (it). The approach in the case of a criminal acquittal appeal has to be different from that of an appeal against conviction. Normally, unless and until some glaring defect or perversity is pointed out in an order of acquittal, the appellate court (HC in this case) would not interfere with the order of acquittal. In the present case no such glaring defect or perversity has been pointed out. That being the case and also because we have examined the evidence threadbare, we find that the prosecution has not at all been able to make out its case against the accused,” the court added.

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