The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside a Delhi High Court order alowing Shivani Bhatnagar murder case prime accused RK Sharma to have access to the case diaries relating to the questioning of Rakesh Bhatnagar, the husband of the deceased scribe.
A Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapadia allowed the appeal of the Delhi Police against the May 2006 order of the High Court, which had directed them to supply the records of Rakesh Bhatnagar's questioning sans personal observations made by the Investigating Officer.
The Bench, which did not find any merit in Sharma’s arguments, said that the High Court order was not sustainable.
Quoting with approval an earlier judgment of the court, the Bench said if the entire case diary was made available to the accused , it might cause prejudice to others who have given statements to the police.
“Confidentiality is always kept in the matters of criminal investigation,” the Bench said.
The Delhi Police had contended that the law did not permit giving copies of case diaries to the defence during the trial and only the courts were empowered to call for the same for perusal when necessary for proper appreciation of the evidence collected by the probe agency.
Suspended Haryana cadre IPS officer R K Sharma had sought copies of case diary contending that non-supply of the same was adversely affecting his defence. His plea was allowed in March this year by Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Rajinder Kumar.
Delhi Police challenged the ASJ's order in the High court which, partly upholding the ASJ's order, said the case diary may be given to the defence but the personal observations made by the Investigating Officer should be deleted before handing over copies of the same do Rharma.
Police said they had already provided to Sharma the copy of Rakesh Bhatnagar's statements under section 161 of the CrPC and that the same was sufficient. They said it was a ploy to delay the trial.
Rakesh was examined and cross-examined in the case for about six months in 2004.
Shivani Bhatnagar, a journalist working with The Indian Express, was found murdered in her east Delhi apartment on January 23, 1999.
Six accused -- R K Sharma, Pradeep Sharma, Satya Prakash, Ved Prakash Sharma, Ved alias Kalu and Sri Bhagwan -- are facing trial in the case.
The trial is at the fag end and most of the over 200 witnesses have already been examined.