Kotkhai custodial death: CBI court advances hearing to Nov 5 on Zaidi’s plea

Accepting the plea of suspended inspector general of police (IGP) Zahur Haider Zaidi, an accused in the 2017 Kotkhai custodial death case, a special CBI court has advanced the hearing in the case from December 3 to November 5.

The court of special CBI judge Sushil Kumar Garg has also issued notice to all other accused to file their reply by November 5.

The last witness in the case was examined on over nine months ago on January 24, with prosecution evidence scheduled next.

Zaidi’s application stated that five witnesses were summoned for examination in March, but could not be examined due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the case was first listed for October 1 and then again for December 3.

Recently, the Chandigarh sessions judge permitted physical hearings in courts with certain conditions with effect from October 19.

“In view of the changed situation, the long date deserves to be preponed and the case be fixed for hearing in November,” stated Zaidi’s application, which was allowed by the CBI court.

The case dates back to July 2017 when four Nepalese and two men from Uttarakhand were arrested for the alleged rape and murder of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Kotkhai, Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh. The girl was reported missing on July 4, 2017, and the six men were arrested 10 days later. Suraj Singh, one of the suspects, was found dead in the custody of Kotkhai police station on the intervening night of July 18 and 19, 2017.

The trial in the custodial death case had started in the special CBI court on June 6 against nine police officials, including IGP Zaidi, who was head of the special investigation team probing the minor girl’s rape and murder.

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