Monday, November 29, 1999

Shimla girl suicide: High orders CBI probe

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Shimla, May 15 -- Taking cognizance of allegations of evidence tampering by a police officer in a Shimla girl's suicide in March this year, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Saturday referred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a "fair and impartial" probe. Pronouncing the order in the open court, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta, transferred the case to the CBI while hearing two petitions - one of the victim's father and the other of maternal uncle - demanding CBI investigation. As the case came up for hearing, the state counsel objected to a parallel media trial by the petitioners. "Even the family members of the victim were not cooperating with the probe being conducted by the police," he said. Justice Joseph observed: "It would be more appropriate that the investigation be conducted by an outside agency - the CBI." The government had ordered a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe into the suicide case. Ritu, 28, had hanged herself from a ceiling fan at her residence in Shimla March 28. She reportedly committed suicide after her bid to marry Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pradeep Kumar Sarpal's son Sidharth was rebuffed. Her relatives had alleged that she had committed suicide after the Sarpals refused to let her marry their son. Sidharth, a sub-judge in Mandi district, and Ritu knew each other for 15 years, her relatives said. As per the first information report, Sarpal, his son and some policemen entered Ritu's house after her suicide and tried to tamper with the evidence. None of her relatives was present in the house then.In the wake of this event, Sarpal had proceeded on long leave, reportedly after a tip off from government side.

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