Without even questioning former Patiala mayor Jaspal Pardhan, a special investigation team (SIT) of Punjab Police probing the Parampreet Kaur murder case on Saturday gave him the clean chit.
The former mayor had stepped down after registration of a murder case against him. The development assumes significance as it comes just two days before the election to the mayor.
In the FIR, Pardhan was charged with Parampreet's murder and the victim's family had described him as the 'father-in-law' of the deceased. But the SIT, in its challan presented in the court, not only gave him the clean chit but also said that Pardhan was a family friend of the victim and not the father-in-law.
In the challan, the police have charged Harpreet Singh, husband of the deceased, and his mother Paramjit Kaur with murder.
"It has been proved that Parampreet was murdered. But the SIT have not found any evidence against Pardhan. The mobile record shows that Pardhan was not at the scene of the crime at the time of the murder. Besides, there was no corroborative evidence against him, so we have given him the clean chit," said inspector general Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, head of the SIT.
The SIT head told HT, "The victim's family has failed to produce evidence to prove Pardhan as her father-in-law. Besides, our role is to probe only the murder."
The IG admitted that Pardhan is underground and did not adhere to the summons to record his statement, adding that, "In case we find evidence against him, we will present a supplementary challan. But so far he is clean."
The IG said, "The murder was commited in the heat of moment by Harpreet, whom the victim suspected of having an extramatrial affair. And Paramjit helped her son in the crime, so we have presented a challan against them."
Victim's family cries foul
Parampreet's family alleged that the clean chit had proved that the SIT was formed to bail out Pardhan. Her father Amarjit Singh Sodhi said, "The IG says we have failed to submit evidence against Pardhan. Is it our duty or that of the police to look for evidence? I have given them enough documents, but they didn't bring them on record. Why has the SIT not gone for a DNA test for Pardhan and Paramjit's daughter? Is it fair that the police gave him the clean chit without even questioning him?
Feb 22: Parampreet murdered; her father names Pardhan as her father-in-law; mayor booked in murder case; goes underground
Feb 25: Mayor resigns; CM forms SIT to probe case
Mar 25: Fresh notification to elect mayor on April 2
Mar 30: SIT gives clean chit to Pardhan