The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea by former Himachal Pradesh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Zahur Haider Zaidi seeking restoration of bail in a custodial death case.
Zaidi is one of the accused in the case connected with the custodial death of a man who was among those arrested on charge of gang raping a minor school girl in Kotkhai in Shimla district in 2017.
A bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and M.R. Shah observed that Zaidi, who was a senior IPS officer, attempted to influence a witness, which is a serious charge.
The bench said: “You have been the highest IPS officer (of the state). How can you issue threats to another IPS officer…” The bench further added that if he can attempt to influence an IPS officer then he could influence and tamper with other witnesses too.
Counsel appearing for Zaidi submitted that all other accused are on bail and his client has been in jail for over a year even after the IPS officer made the statement of being pressurised by him.
The counsel argued that many witnesses are yet to be examined in the trial.
The bench responded as far as criminal trials are concerned, influencing a witness is an important thing. “We are not on the merits of the case, we are on how you did not follow the bail conditions imposed by the trial court,” said the bench.
Later, Zaidi’s counsel withdrew the plea challenging cancellation of bail from the court.
In April 2019, he was was granted bail by the top court, and transferred the case from Shimla to Chandigarh.
In January 2020, the trial court cancelled Zaidi’s bail after an IPS officer Soumya Sambasivan, a prosecution witness, alleged she was being pressured by Zaidi to influence the trial.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court declined to interfere with the trial court’s order cancelling Zaidi’s bail.
In July 2017, Zaidi and seven others were arrested in the custodial death case of Suraj, who was found dead at the Kotkhai police station.