Terming the murder of 11-year-old Vidhu Jain in Malerkotla as a "barbaric crime", the Punjab and Haryana high court on Saturday ordered a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the boy's murder.
The bench of justice Jitendra Chauhan gave the order on a petition by the boy's parents, following the Punjab government submitting that, keeping in view the population composition of the town, there was strong possibility of disruption of communal harmony and a resultant law-and-order problem. Besides, the government noted the need to also redress the grievance of Vidhu's parents, who had requested a CBI probe after expressing apprehensions about the impartiality of the local police.
The HC thus ordered the Punjab police to transfer all records to the CBI within three weeks.
It was on September 30 last year that Vidhu, son of a kite-seller, was burnt alive on a market street in Malerkotla in Sangrur district. His family accused politicians, bureaucrats and the police of lying for a year that they had moved the case to the CBI. The state government had indeed recommended a CBI inquiry in January, but it was not accepted by the agency as matter did not have any inter-state or transnational ramifications. Later, the parents approached the court.
Soon after the order came, Vidhu's father Navneet Kumar, who was present during the hearing, expressed gratitude to the court. "We hope to get justice now," he said in choked voice.
The court also questioned the senior superintendent of police, Sangrur, MS Sidhu, who was present in court, why the state could not investigate the case despite having many senior officers. Originally, CBI came into the picture when the district police, after protests in the town, mooted transfer of the investigation.
The petitioner's counsel, BS Jaswal, while seeking transfer of the case to the CBI, raised questions over the investigations carried out by the police. He submitted that the victim family belonged to a minority community in the town and the probe was not carried out properly due to the possible political fallout of the case just before the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year.
The police submitted that after the parents named a man, "it was duly investigated by the SIT (special investigation team)". However, the government affidavit added, "no clinching evidence could be gathered to prove the allegations".
The CBI counsel submitted that the agency was prepared to investigate the case if the court directed so.