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Ujjain murder trial stayed

The SC asks the MP Govt to explain the action taken against the police officers who turned hostile in the professor HS Sabharwal murder case, reports Satya Prakash.
Hindustan Times | By Satya Prakash, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2007 02:47 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Madhya Pradesh government to explain the action taken against the police officers who turned hostile in the professor H.S. Sabharwal murder case and stayed its trial before a sessions court in Ujjain.

The court issued notice to the state government on a petition filed by the late professor's son, Himanshu Sabharwal, who sought for the case to be transferred to Delhi on the ground that a fair trial was not possible in Madhya Pradesh. He has also asked for the case to be transferred to the CBI.

"What action have you taken against those police officers who went back on their earlier statements? Won't the trial be a mockery if your police officers turn hostile? Our anxiety is that if every police officer turns turtle, all the accused will be given clean chits," the court told the Madhya Pradesh government counsel.

Expressing concern over the manner in which police witnesses turned hostile in the case, the court said that it had already made it clear in the 'Best Bakery Case' that there should be some semblance of a trial to ensure that it was brought to a logical end.

However, the court expressed the hope that it would not become another 'Best Bakery Case', in which all the accused were acquitted of the mass communal killings after the witnesses, including some of the victims, turned hostile in Gujarat.

The harsh observations came after the petitioner's counsel, Vivek Tankha, submitted that all the police officials in the case had turned hostile and the victim's family was not confident of getting justice in Madhya Pradesh.

The petitioner submitted that though 70 people, including students and policemen, were present at the scene of occurrence, no one was willing to depose freely as the accused belonged to the students' wing of the ruling party in the state.

Five policemen — Indravikram Singh, Dilip Tripathi, Dhara Singh Chawda, Shankar Rao Ghonghde and Sukhnandan — who testified as prosecution witnessess turned hostile. Komal Singh Seneger, a staff member of the college who named the accused in front of the national media has now contradicted his own statement, the petitioner submitted.

He also pointed out that the police recorded statements of 94 people but brought on record only 45 of them.

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