Jaleel Andrabi Murder Case: Court reserves order on Major Avtar’s arrest

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By: D A Rashid
Srinagar, Dec 20: The trial court hearing the murder case of noted human rights activist and leading lawyer, Jaleel Andrabi, on Tuesday reserved order on the application seeking arrest and trial of the accused Major Avtar Singh.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar reserved the order after hearing arguments of the counsels for the complainant, Advocates Arshad Andrabi, Mir Hafeezullah and Bashir Sidiq as well as from the prosecution.
Counsels for the complainant case informed the court that there is inordinate delay to bring the accused to book as the court orders are not taken seriously by the respondents. “In the cases against Army, sanction from the Center is cited to be the impediment for their prosecution but in Jaleel Andrabi’s case, the Central government has already granted sanction for the trial of the accused but despite a number of court directions, he is still at large,” the counsels argued.
They argued that Government of India is not interested to bring the accused before the court as it has not shown any seriousness to comply with the court directions.
“Eleven years have elapsed but there is no headway in the case while Abu Saleem (known gangster) and his wife Monika Bedi were extradited from other countries as the government acted with a great zeal,” the counsels argued.
The public prosecutor pleaded before the court that evidence can be recorded in absence of the accused under section 514 of the RPC, but the counsels for the complainant objected the contention.
“In the present case, there is correct and precise information about the presence of the accused in California (US), so section 514 is not applicable in the case,” counsels for the complainant told the court.
They informed the court that there is a formal communication between Home ministry, Interpol and the prosecution about the presence of the accused in California and still efforts were never put in to arrest the accused.
In August this year the court had asked the Inspector General of Crime and Railways to file the status report of extradition proceedings of Major Avtar Singh, accused of killing Jaleel Andrabi.
Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate had also directed to issue reminder to Secretary Home to expedite the matter saying a lot of delay had already been caused in the matter.
Counsel for the victim’s family, Mir Hafeezullah, while pleading the case had informed the Court that the prosecution had failed to convey to the Court about the response of the External Affairs Ministry.
The counsel told the Court that the IG Crime and Railways, who is the nodal officer of Interpol in Jammu and Kashmir, along with the prosecution have not followed the case meticulously and have failed to serve the court orders to the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home and Ministry of Defence. Hehad argued that the dilatory approach had prolonged the case giving the accused a lot of breathing space.
Pertinently, Major Avtar Singh left India after allegedly murdering Andrabi in March 1996. He went to America via Canada. He was arrested by police in California in February this year following a complaint of domestic violence by his wife. Major Avtar Singh served with Army’s 35 Rashtriya Rifles for many years.
A murder case was registered against Major Avtar Singh and others after the victim’s family pursued the matter in the High Court and alleged that the Government was covering up the murder. The case is, however, pending trial before the court of CJM Srinagar for over a decade. The Court has directed extradition of the accused Major from USA.

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