Murthal ‘gangrapes’: Khattar abused IAS officer for sharing info, says amicus curiae
Anupam Gupta, a senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana high court, stunned all on Friday by claiming that a senior Haryana government bureaucrat, who was a member of the Prakash Singh panel on February Jat quota violence, was abused by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for sharing information on the alleged Murthal gangrapes.india Updated: Oct 23, 2016 14:21 IST
Anupam Gupta, a senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana high court, stunned all on Friday by claiming that a senior Haryana government bureaucrat, who was a member of the Prakash Singh panel on February Jat quota violence, was abused by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for sharing information on the alleged Murthal gangrapes.
Gupta, who is assisting a high court (HC) division bench as an impartial adviser on suo motu petition initiated on the violence, not only named additional chief secretary Vijai Vardhan as the panel member who had shared information on ‘gangrapes’ with him, but also said the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer was called up by the Haryana chief minister himself.
In May, Gupta had told the court that a member of the Prakash Singh panel, probing acts of omission on part of officials during the violence, had met crucial witnesses, who had shared details of alleged horrific incidents of the February 21-22 night. He had then stated that one of the members had called him up and shared accounts of witnesses and confirmed the alleged rapes in Murthal.
“After I shared the details in court, the Haryana chief minister himself called up Vijai Vardhan and not only was he pulled up but abused as well. The call was made at a time when Vardhan’s father, who later passed away, was in hospital,” Gupta told the HC bench of justices SS Saron and Sneh Prashar. Apart from former Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) Prakash Singh and Vardhan, Haryana DGP KP Singh was a panel member.
Govt seeks in-camera proceedings
During the hearing, the Haryana government sought to share some information with the court but only in in-camera proceedings. It further submitted that a status report on its investigation had been prepared, but at the present stage it wanted to share it only with the court, which could further decide on sharing it with Gupta or not.
However, the senior advocate strongly objected to it, stating that it was a “well-fashioned” strategy of the government to avoid sharing of information with amicus curiae (impartial adviser). “What is the point in having an amicus (curiae) then, if information is not to be shared with me? Is it happening in any other court in the country?” Gupta questioned, as additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, countered submissions by stating that the case was at a critical stage and the government wanted to protect some “sources”, who had given vital leads.
However, Gupta claimed that he too had betrayed every possible “moral” confidence of his sources and shared information in larger public interest to the court in this case. He added that at no point he had shared information with media and if there was any such instance, the government should point it out.
As in place of justice Lisa Gill, justice Sneh Prashar was present in the division bench, the court deferred the hearing for December 3.
Progress reports on 2,105 FIRs sought by Dec 3
In second such instance in the past six months, the HC on Saturday asked area magistrates in the state to examine the progress made in 2,105 first information reports (FIRs) registered in the February 2016 Jat quota violence and submit their reports by December 3.
The court had earlier sought the reports on June 1, which had exposed the slow pace of investigation. The HC has asked area magistrates to also give necessary directions to investigators. The court further observed that it was not going to give up monitoring, for which the state had made a request on the last date of hearing.
Meanwhile, the government told the court that FIRs relating to two properties of Haryana finance minister Captain Abhimanyu’s brother would be recommended for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) next week. Three cases pertaining to violence in Rohak had already been handed over to the CBI. The government also said that so far 565 challans had been presented, in over 2,066 cases challans were put up without making any arrest and 732 persons arrested so far for the Jat quota violence.