Taking up the pre-arrest bail petition filed by Punjab's suspended inspector general (IG) of police Gautam Cheema in a case registered against him and his accomplices at the Mohali police station for allegedly kidnapping proclaimed offender (PO) Sumedh Gulati, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab government for October 13.
The petition filed by Cheema, who is on the run, came up for hearing before the court headed by justice Jitendra Chauhan. His counsel submitted that he had been "made a scapegoat" and had been falsely implicated "in order to tarnish and damage his service career" and "due to a deep-rooted conspiracy though there is no evidence with the police to stand upon."
Cheema had moved the high court after the court of additional district and sessions judge, Mohali, dismissed his bail petition on September 29. Now, Cheema has submitted that his custodial interrogation is not required in the case as nothing is to be recovered from him.
The Mohali police had registered a case against Cheema and his accomplice, Ajay Chowdhary, on August 30 under sections 365 (kidnapping with intent to wrongfully confine person), 452 (house trespass), 323 (voluntary causing hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 225 (obstruction to lawful apprehension of another person), 136 (harbouring deserter), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and under the Arms Act at the phase-1 police station, Mohali.
The petitioner has submitted that he is a member of the Scheduled Caste category and had thus become an eyesore in the eyes of a number of other officers of the Punjab police, who became jealous by his early rise to the post of IG at a young age. However, Cheema has not mentioned the names of any of the police officers in the petition.
He has added that the case was registered as a result of consultations and deliberations on the statement of assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Dilbagh Singh, attributing alleged motives to the petitioner.
The petition read, "Davinder Singh Gill, Sumedh Gulati and their wives expected that the petitioner would help them in the criminal cases pending against them." Cheema has also given the details of 18 pending cases against Kricpy Khera (Gill's wife), eight against Davinder and two against Gulati.
Cheema mentioned that Gulati was not in police custody when the petitioner is alleged to have gone to the police station at 11pm on August 26. He added that Gulati, who had been declared a proclaimed offender, was shown to have been arrested at 1.30am on August 27. Also, though the incident is alleged to have taken place on August 26, the FIR was recorded at 3:25pm on August 30, he added.
The petitioner also alleged that the police, on coming to know about Gulati's visit with his wife to Max Hospital, took him into custody for the first time and thereafter fabricated the record of the police station just to tarnish the petitioner's image. Cheema's petition mentions that though the CCTV cameras were not functional at the police station, even photographs taken from the CCTV camera at Max Hospital did not support the case set up by the police.
Mohali court order
Additional district and sessions judge, Mohali, Tarsem Mangla, had dismissed Cheema's pre-arrest bail petition on September 29. "In this case, a high-ranking police officer has behaved like an ordinary criminal by firstly entering the police station in a drunkard condition and secondly by getting a PO freed from the lawful custody of the police to further kidnap him to create terror in the mind of that PO as well as Kricpy Khaira, who had been recuperating in the hospital," reads the judgment.
The judgment further reads, "He is an inspector general of police but he is absent from duty since August 29, 2014, and the learned chief judicial magistrate, Mohali, has since issued arrest warrants against him… Being himself a member of the disciplined force, it does not behove him to obstruct the police from discharging its official duties."