New Delhi: Uproar over reports that two alleged absconding killers of scribe Rajdev Ranjan were seen alongside Bihar Health Minister Tej Pratap Yadav and RJD strongman Shahabuddin on Monday came under the scanner of Supreme Court, which sought a judicial report to ascertain whether the accused were "proclaimed offenders" on the day they had met.
The apex court, which granted three months time to CBI to conclude probe in the sensational case, also directed that six accused, including Mohammad Kaif and Mohammad Javed who were seen alongside the RJD leaders, cannot seek statutory bail on the ground of non-filing of charge sheets in the matter.
"The Sessions Judge, Siwan (Town), Bihar, shall submit a report along with order sheets with regard to status of Mohd Kaif and Mohd Javed as regards they are proclaimed offenders or whether there was issue of non-bailable warrants of arrest from the court or any other aspect relating to the case concerned," a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy said.
"As the charge sheet has already been filed by the state police and further investigation is in progress by CBI, the accused persons who have been charge sheeted shall not claim any benefit for enlargement on bail under proviso to Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal procedure," it said.
Yadav, elder son of RJD leader Lalu Prasad and a cabinet colleague of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, took the plea that "there were chance meetings" and in any case, the accused were not proclaimed offenders on the day. RJD Vice President Shahabuddin, who has recently been sent back to jail by the apex court, took the same plea that Mohd Kaif and Mohd Javed were not the proclaimed offenders on the day they were allegedly seen along with the RJD leaders.
Advocate Gopal Singh, appearing for Bihar, supported the contention of RJD leaders and said the accused were not proclaimed offenders on that day, prompting the bench to seek a judicial report along with trial court's order sheets from the Sessions Judge of Siwan by 28 November. Ranjan, 42, a senior journalist working with a vernacular daily, was shot dead on the evening of 22 July in Siwan town in Bihar.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, appearing for CBI, said the agency has taken over the probe and needed six months more to conclude investigations. "No. You do it within three months," the bench ordered. During the hearing, the ASG submitted the report of the CBI with regard to probe conducted so far in the case.
"Immediately after registration of the case by CBI, a team headed by SP, CBI along with Chief IO, Assistant IO and other support staff reached Siwan on 16 September, 2016 and has been camping there for the purposes of expeditious investigation," CBI said in its status report.
The CBI team inspected the crime scene and other relevant places in attendance of the IOs of the local police and also discussed details of the case and collected relevant information, it said. "CBI team collected the case files/records from local police.
Scrutiny of the records revealed that Siwan Police had filed charge sheet against six accused persons, namely Azaharuddin Beig alias Laddan Miyan, Rohit Kumr Soni, Vijay Kumar Gupta, Rajesh Kumar, Sonu Kumar Gupta and Rishu Kumar Jaiswal in the court of CJM, Siwan on 20 August,2016. However, they had kept open further investigation in the matter," it said.
CBI said it has collected "exhibits including arms and ammunition, clothes of the deceased, mobile instruments of the accused persons and deceased" and the mobiles have been sent to the expert for retrieval of data including deleted data. "CFSL team from New Delhi were called and scene of crime was recreated with the help of local police IOs and the persons who had seen the body and the place of occurrence," the agency said.
"Call details of the accused, suspect, deceased and other relevant person were collected which are under scrutiny," it said, adding "the hard disk of computer being used by the deceased was collected and sent to the expert to find any relevant material to the case."
"Around 40 witnesses have been examined which included the complainant and his family members, IOs associated with the case, doctors who conducted post mortem, persons connnected with print media and others to know the details and motive for killing the deceased," it said.