The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday made it clear that it would not object to the State government handing over investigation into the rape and murder of two women at Shopian to the Central Bureau of Investigation. It said what was important here was to unfold the truth.

“Our anxiety is to solve this case and mystery,” a division Bench comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir observed, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation petition filed by the Kashmir Bar Association (KBA).

“We want to know what actually happened, and to be very candid, if this mystery is not solved, we can’t tell the people of the State that we are here to protect you,” Justice Ghosh said. “We are more interested in unfolding the truth behind this heinous crime.”

His observations came after the State government filed an application seeking the court’s permission to hand over the case to the CBI.

The State government last week announced its intention to approach the High Court following a report in The Hindu about the manipulation of crucial DNA samples.

The Bench said that it was the prerogative of the State government to hand over investigation to any agency it considered fit to bring the guilty to justice.

“We have not appointed a Special Investigation Team and it was the government that constituted it. We have only appointed officials of a rank higher than those at whom fingers were being pointed. Our role is only to monitor an impartial investigation and we have made it clear that rank shall not interfere with the investigation,” Justice Ghosh said. “So far as handing over the investigation to any agency other than the State, there is no order obstructing it.”

However, he said the court would not allow any probe where the investigating officer was lower in rank than the officials arrested. “We will intervene only if the CBI appoints below rank officers to investigate the case, as senior police officers have been arrested,” the Bench said.

It also asked the Majlis-e-Mushawarat Shopian, spearheading the agitation, for its opinion on the government’s move. “If they [Majlis] want they can give observations in a sealed cover.”

The KBA opposed handing over the case. “We will oppose the application of the State. See the role of the CBI in the sex scandal case. See what they did. The CBI shielded many high profile people who were involved in the sex scandal,” KBA president Mian Qayoom said.

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