Congress MLA and former health minister Shabir Ahmad Khan, who is accused of molesting a doctor under non-bailable sections, was finally granted bail by a court here on Tuesday, even as the police officer who was investigating the case was transferred.
Justice Janak Raj Kotwal turned an interim bail, issued on February 12 against surety amount of Rs 25,000, as absolute for Khan for "complying with the police probe in the alleged molestation case".
The bail has come as a shock for the lawyers of the complainant. "We were surprised. We were not expecting a bail in such a case," said the complainant's lawyer, Bashir Ahmad.
On February 7, a woman doctor had lodged a written complaint with the police, accusing the minister's staff of pressuring her to present herself before the minister at the civil secretariat in Srinagar. She alleged that the minister forced her to sit inside a cubicle and made objectionable remarks and sexual advances.
After preliminary investigation, the police lodged an FIR under Section 354 of the Ranbir Penal Code (assault or criminal force on a woman with the intention to outrage her woman) and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman) against him. A public outcry forced the Congress to seek a resignation from Khan, a sitting MLA from Rajouri, from the heath ministry's portfolio. The minister went into hiding for six days and presented himself before the investigating officer just a day after the local court granted him an interim bail on February 12. The minister claimed "he was innocent" and also attended ongoing assembly session for a day.
The complainant's lawyers said he will go through the grounds of the bail to chalk out his future course of action. "We have not been shown the grounds," said lawyer Ahmad.
Expressing unhappiness, the complainant has said she will knock the doors of the Supreme Court against the bail. Meanwhile, the SHO of Shaheed Gunj, Mohi-ud-Din Malik, also investigating officer in the case, has been transferred. Senior police officials said "the transfer was due to the police officer and has nothing to do with the case".