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SC notice to Centre on NC leader death

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought the Union government`s response on a plea for CBI probe into the mysterious death of National Conference leader Mohd Yusuf Shah Haji. A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar issued the notice also to the Jammu and Kashmir government seeking their replies within two weeks.

The bench was initially reluctant to entertain the plea as doctors had certified that heart attack was the cause of death. Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Bhim Singh told the bench that the incident ought to be probed by the CBI as Yusuf had died after visiting the chief minister`s residence.

"Doctors have certified that he had died of heart attack. So where is the question of an FIR?," the bench asked him. Singh, however, insisted that the matter should be probed by an independent agency as the death had occurred under mysterious circumstances. He cited the apex court`s earlier ruling in the D K Basu case wherein guidelines have been laid down on probing such mysterious deaths in alleged police custody. The bench later relented and directed issuance of notices.

The petition was filed for a CBI probe into the death of Haji allegedly in police custody under mysterious circumstances in Srinagar. The petition filed by Balwant Singh Mankotia, a sitting MLA of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, had sought a direction to the state government to hand over the probe into Haji`s death to the CBI.

The petition said the 61-year-old activist was arrested allegedly on the orders of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on September 29 and he died next morning. The state police has reportedly said that Haji died due to `cardio respiratory arrest`.

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