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CBI can summon anyone in Bhanwari case: Rajasthan HC

February 13, 2012 22:16 IST
The Rajasthan high court on Monday ruled that the Central Bureau of Investigation can summon all those required for questioning through a written notice in Bhanwari Devi case, and dismissed the petition filed by 85-year-old Amri Devi, regarding her summoning by the agency for interrogation.

The court over ruled objection of the petitioner that "innocent persons" in the case should not be summoned and gave green signal to the CBI. However, it cautioned the investigating agency to adhere strictly to the law while calling them.

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Devi's counsel Sunil Joshi had said that the CBI summoned her twice for interrogation, which is violation of Section 160 of the CrPC. "This section prohibits summoning of any children up to the age of 15 years and women in the name of interrogation by any investigative agency," Joshi had said.

Despite old age and ill-health, Devi was interrogated and was treated inappropriately, Joshi alleged. In reply to the objection of the petitioner, the counsel of the CBI Panne Singh argued that innocent persons needed to be summoned for interrogation and termed the process as an integral part of the investigation. "It must be followed by a written notice," the court said.

While Joshi said that the court also allowed us to go to any relevant court or commission as far as the summoning of children and women are concerned, so we are now planning to give a representation to the Central Vigilance Commission.

On the other hand, in a different petition filed by the counsel of Shahabuddin and Balia, currently under judicial custody, the court issued notice to the CBI director seeking reply on March 16. Petitioner's counsel Pradeep Choudhary had challenged the order of the CBI court, in which it had prohibited the availability of the statements of various accused, suspects and witnesses under section 164 of the CrPC to anyone related to the case.

The CBI had moved an application in the CBI court seeking this prohibition until the final chargesheet is filed in the court considering its negative impact on the investigation.

Meanwhile, the judicial custody of Sohan Lal Bishnoi, Shahabuddin and Kumbharam alias Balia was further extended till March 5 by the SC/ST court.

All the three were produced on Monday after the court was apprised of the addition of the section 302 against them in the final chargesheet, which is due shortly.

On Sunday, scores of people from the Bishnoi community took out a massive rally here in protest against the alleged harassment of Amri Devi.

Devi is the mother of Rajasthan Congress legislator Malkhan Singh Bishnoi, who has been arrested by the CBI in the case.

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