Nearly two years after Jawaharlal Nehru University student Najeeb Ahmed went missing from campus and the police as well as the Central Bureau of Investigation unsuccessfully investigated his disappearance, the Delhi high court on Monday allowed filing of a closure report in the matter, saying the probe by the premier investigative agency was not “tardy and slow”.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel while disposing of the habeas corpus petition moved by the student’s mother, Fatima Nafees, said the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation was not “tardy and slow” as was contended by her and rejected her claim that it wanted to file the closure report due to “political compulsions”.
“This court is, for the reasons discussed hereafter, not persuaded that the CBI is tardy and slow in the investigation or that it has not taken steps that are required to be taken in the matter.
“In the present case, this court has in fact monitored the investigation thus far of the CBI and has not been persuaded to agree with the petitioner that the CBI has not acted fairly or that it has been under any influence or political compulsions in its decision to file a closure report,” the bench said.
The CBI, which had taken over the probe on May 16 last year, after more than a year of investigation said it had looked into all the aspects of the case and was of the opinion that no offence was committed against the missing student.
Ahmed had gone missing from the Mahi-Mandvi hostel of JNU on October 15, 2016, following a scuffle with some students allegedly affiliated to the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad the previous night.
As the Delhi Police remained clueless about Ahmed’s whereabouts even after seven months since he went missing, the probe was handed over to the CBI on May 16 last year.
The Delhi Police had not opposed the handing over of the investigation in the case, saying it had done its bit in the matter.
Fatima’s counsel, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, had during the proceedings contended that under the Minnesota Protocol they were entitled to peruse the status reports filed by the CBI in the matter.
Dealing with the argument, the bench said in the present case, at every stage of the hearing, Fatima was aware of the filing of the status reports -- initially by the Delhi Police and later by the CBI.
The court said the status reports might also contain details of the case diary of the investigating agency and these are not shared with anyone, be it the suspect or the complainant.
“It is to be perused only by the court. There is no requirement of sharing the details in the case diary with the complainant,” the court said.
The bench further said that once CBI files its closure report, the complainant may file a ‘protest petition’ opposing it and thereafter, she will be “provided with full excess to the closure report and the materials on which it is based”.
“Subject to terms with which the complainant (Fatima) would have to comply, the criminal court concerned will provide such access and perhaps also furnish copy of the entire closure report and such of the documents which formed the basis for the recommendation for such closure,” it said and added that in this way the requirements of the Minnesota Protocol would be met.
The Minnesota Protocol is the revised United Nations Manual on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
The bench, in its 34-page judgment, also rejected Fatima’s plea for entrusting the investigation to a Special Investigation Team whose work would be monitored by the high court, thus removing the CBI from the picture.
It said it has monitored the CBI investigation up to the stage where the agency was in a position to file a closure report before the concerned trial court and what should happen after that was for the lower court to decide.
“Consequently, the prayer of the petitioner (Fatima) that the court should constitute an SIT and monitor its work, thus removing the CBI from the picture, has to be declined,” the bench said and added that it leaves it open to the student’s mother to raise all the contentions available to her in accordance with law before the concerned trial court.