HC dismisses Daati Maharaj's plea for review of its decision transferring rape probe to CBI
New Delhi, Nov 14: The Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed self-styled preacher Daati Maharaj's plea for review of its decision to transfer the probe in the rape case against him to CBI and cautioned the agency against starting a fresh inquiry in the matter.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao rejected the preacher's contention that facts were suppressed by the petitioner - a lawyer - while seeking transfer of the probe. It said the investigation was handed over to CBI "after going through the charge sheet in detail" and after considering the plea moved by the "victim herself".
"The contention of the applicant (Daati Maharaj) that there is suppression of fact cannot be accepted in its totality and this submission gets diluted or becomes non-effective because of the fact that the victim herself has approached this court and it was after considering her prayer and also after going through the charge sheet in detail that the order in question was passed by us," said the bench. It said it found "no error apparent on the face of the record to review the order" of October 3.
The preacher had also contended that CBI had started a fresh investigation in the case which was not permitted. Dealing with the argument, the court said it had directed only for further investigation by the CBI and not a de novo (fresh) probe.
"Our intention was not at all to order a de novo inquiry into the matter. We had directed for supply of the entire charge sheet to the CBI and they were required to go through the charge sheet, conduct further investigation as is permissible under law and then submit a report to us," the bench said.
"The report submitted by them, interim in nature, only indicates that they have initiated the process and, therefore, we caution them to ensure that the investigation to be conducted by them is not a de novo inquiry but it is only a further investigation or inquiry into the matter," it said. "In the meanwhile, based on the charge sheet already filed, the trial court shall proceed with the matter in accordance with law," it added and dismissed the application.
On October 3, the high court had said that the manner in which the probe was carried out by police "casts a shadow on the investigation" as it did not arrest the accused in the case even after recording the complainant's statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The preacher's plea against the October 3 order was initially filed in the Supreme Court which had asked him to approach the high court with his grievance.
The CBI had earlier submitted before the high court its status report of the probe in a sealed cover. The agency had registered a case of rape and unnatural sex against Daati on October 26. The complainant's plea was earlier being heard by a single judge bench of the high court, but was transferred to the division bench after a PIL on the issue was filed. A complaint was filed against Daati Madan Lal alias Daati Maharaj on June 7 and an FIR was registered on June 11.
On June 22, police questioned the accused, who has been charged with rape of a disciple at his ashrams in Delhi and Rajasthan. The accused has claimed that he was being framed. The complainant has filed the case against the preacher, his three brothers and a woman at Fatehpur Beri police station in South Delhi. The case was later transferred to the crime branch. The complaint said the FIR against him has been registered for alleged heinous offences of rape, unnatural sex, molestation and common intention under the IPC.