More than a month after an FIR was registered in the fake vigilance trap case, the five accused - including a superintendent of police (SP) of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) - are yet to be arrested.
Excise and taxation officer (ETO) Ranjit Singh had committed suicide last year after he was framed and arrested by the VB on trumped-up charges of corruption.
Besides VB SP Amandeep Kaur, the accused are head constable Harminder Singh, traders Rajiv Sud and Rajinder Singh, and driver Paramjit Singh.
A court order for "essential custodial interrogation" of the accused has also not been complied with.
Rejecting anticipatory bail pleas of the accused, the Mohali district court had recently given separate but identical rulings, saying that, "It is essential for the investigating agency to thoroughly probe the matter, for which the custodial interrogation of the applicant/accused is a must."
The SP's plea for anticipatory bail was rejected on September 3. Amandeep, who was repatriated from the VB to the police headquarters, is presently on long leave while being posted with the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) in Ludhiana.
The court had dismissed Harminder's and Rajinder's bail pleas on September 12, Sud's plea on August 25 and Paramjit's on September 7.
"We will arrest them in a week," said Mohali SP Swarandeep Singh, who is heading a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the entire case as per orders of Mohali senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
It was only after the Mohali court served a notice on the SSP and Mohali Phase 1 station house officer (SHO) that the Mohali police registered the FIR on August 18.
When contacted, Swarandeep Singh told HT that the SIT had sent a list of "certain queries" to the police, the VB and the excise and taxation department "for foolproof arrests of the accused." "We also plan to raid the traders' premises," he added.
The FIR had been registered under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 306 (abetment to suicide) and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) related to criminal intimidation and forgery and framing of false evidence, besides sections 7 (taking illegal gratification) and 13 (2) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Manjit Kaur, the ETO's widow, had lodged a complaint in the Mohali court, stating that the police had neither registered an FIR nor taken any action against the guilty.
The VB trap was detected as fake by a two-member inquiry panel comprising senior IAS officer Mansavi Kumar and senior IPS officer Harpreet Singh Sidhu. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had directed the chief secretary to get a probe conducted after the ETO committed suicide soon after his release on bail in April last year.
Superintendent of police Amandeep Kaur had stated in her bail application that her seniors had entrusted her with the task of laying the trap after a complaint was lodged at the office of the senior superintendent of police (SSP), VB, Ludhiana. However, in her statement recorded with the two-member inquiry panel, Amandeep had stated that she had received the complaint against the ETO from Rajinder Singh, a Ludhiana-based trader.
As per the inquiry panel report, Rajinder had claimed that Paramjit Singh had introduced him to the SP, to whom he lodged his complaint. HT is in possession of statements made by the accused before the two-member inquiry panel.
Paramjit, identified as a conduit in the case, had stated in his bail application that he was "just a driver who ferried the entire party to the Mohali police station and did not know anything beyond his job." This contradicts Rajinder's statement that Paramjit introduced him to the SP.