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MHA asks for Jessica report

THE PUBLIC outrage over the acquittal of the nine accused in the Jessica Lall murder case has been noticed at the Centre. The Home Ministry has directed the Delhi Police to furnish a detailed report on the investigations, particularly highlighting the "loopholes" that might have led to the acquittals.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 01:09 IST

THE PUBLIC outrage over the acquittal of the nine accused in the Jessica Lall murder case has been noticed at the Centre. The Home Ministry has directed the Delhi Police to furnish a detailed report on the investigations, particularly highlighting the "loopholes" that might have led to the acquittals.

The Delhi Police, which reports directly to the Home Ministry, have also been directed to fix accountability and identify the officers responsible for the tardy investigations.

Well-placed sources claimed the feedback received by the Home Ministry was that the "Delhi Police went completely wrong on the investigations".

Senior ministry officials said it was "intriguing" that the police relied heavily on the witnesses' statements. The police have been asked to explain why the investigations focused only on "oral evidence, instead of scientific, circumstantial and forensic evidence".

"It's highly suspicious that in a murder case involving high-profile accused, the police virtually built the entire case around the witnesses -- knowing fully well that they'll turn hostile during the trial," said a senior ministry official. "This aspect needs more explanation."

In wake of the Jessica Lall judgment, the Home Ministry is keen to put in place a mechanism where both the investigating officer and the supervising officer will be held responsible if an accused in a heinous case is acquitted.

Brass played pen games

FIRST, THE accused were acquitted. Now, the police seem to have found their fall guy.

Inspector Surender Kumar Sharma, the investigating officer in the Jessica Lall murder case and till recently the SHO, Hauz Khas police station, was on Saturday night transferred to the security unit of the Delhi Police.

The police are not saying if it is a routine transfer or constitutes action taken against the inspector for goofing up the investigation in the case. But if transfer order is a punishment for the shoddy probe, then the police have some serious questions to answers.

Most the Capital's policemen are wondering if Surender Sharma has been made the scapegoat to escape the growing criticism. Police commissioner, K.K. Paul refused to comment on whether the senior officers involved with the probe will face action.

Every senior officer was aware that crucial evidence in the case had been tampered with, what action was taken?

"No action was ever taken," said an officer. "All that the seniors did in the past six years was to write letters to each other. No effort was made to fix responsibility and the same thing is being done now."

Paul, the then joint commissioner, crime branch, in his report in 2001 to Ajai Raj Sharma, the then police commissioner, had asked for a fresh case to be registered as there had been a conspiracy between the accused and certain officials.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 01:09 IST