iconimg Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, October 11, 2013
In an exemplary case of human rights violations by the Punjab police, wherein the Patiala police had registered an FIR in a complaint of “kidnapping and murder” as for “cheating and criminal breach of trust” to illegally help the accused, the Punjab and Haryana high court has handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“The complete violations of ‘human rights’ and ‘rule of law’ are the main concerns in the instant case,” said justice Mehinder Singh Sullar in his strongly-worded judgment.

“As strange as it may seem, but strictly speaking, the tendency and frequency of some of the police officers not to register the cases under the appropriate provision (offences), despite specific repeated directions issued by the courts, in order to illegally help the accused, have been tremendously increasing day by day, adversely affecting the administration of justice in general and the complainants (victims) in particular,” justice Sullar observed.

Justice Sullar stated that not only a fair trial but also a fair investigation was part of the constitutional right of a citizen. “The investigation, thus, has to be fair and judicious, which is the minimum requirement of the rule of law,” he added. The court said that otherwise, the person accused of a serious offence would be let off not because of lack of any evidence or material, but because of unfair and injudicious investigation.

The case

The complainant in the case, Daljit Kaur of Kotli village in Patiala, had submitted during the registration of the FIR that the accused, Balvir Singh, had hatched a criminal conspiracy and got 2-acre land of her brother Kuldeep Singh (deceased) at Hariau village in Patran transferred by virtue of sham transaction in favour of Prabhjot Kaur and Parnit Kaur for Rs. 26 lakh. The accused got deposited the amount in his own account, administered drugs, illegally detained Kuldeep for a month in Patiala and killed him with the connivance of other co-accused, projecting it to be a case of accident in Kaithal (Haryana). It was complained that the accused had also threatened to eliminate her entire family.

However, the court observed that the police officials at Patran police station had only registered the case for minor offences punishable under sections 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code on November 20, 2012.

Unjust probe

After going through the facts of the case, the court said the police did not register and properly investigate the case under the relevant provisions (offences) “inculcating and perpetuating injustice to the complainant, who is a poor and unfortunate rustic, deserted lady.”

The court further said that even after various high court directions, the Patiala SSP took a somersault, adopted delaying tactics on one pretext or the other by submitting different status reports containing different stands and did not register an FIR under relevant sections.

Mincing no words, the court said the local police appeared to have acted under some “undisclosed political/bureaucratic influence” or otherwise not taking appropriate action against the influenced guilty persons for “extraneous consideration for the reasons best known to it.”

The court also directed the CBI director to depute a team of some senior officers to independently conduct an investigation, take appropriate legal action against the guilty and submit a status report within four months.