Setting aside the acquittal orders of former Jagraon senior superintendent of police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai and his brother Gurmail Singh in 2002 counterfeit currency seizure case, Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday directed Ambala sessions judge to conduct retrial in the case and complete it within four months.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Mahesh Grover in its order found the trial against the two "wholly vitiated". The high court had taken suo motu notice of a news item 'Fake currency case witnesses resile as SSP Pherurai, brother walk free' published in Hindustan Times on November 14, 2007.
The bench also said, "The role played by any functionary of the state in pressurising the prosecution witnesses to give false evidence, shall also be inquired into in the event any material to the said effect is laid before the learned court."
On September 23, 2002, a Punjab police team had raided the house of Gurcharan and his brother Gurmail in Pherurai village of Ludhiana district and seized fake Indian currency notes with a face value of Rs 5.20 lakh. Following this, an FIR was registered on September 23, 2002 under Sections 489(B) and (C) (possession of forged or counterfeit currency-notes) of the IPC at police station, Raikot.
Though Gurmail was arrested on October 11, 2002, Gurcharan Singh was nabbed on October 22, 2002.
However, later the fast track court of additional sessions judge, Ambala, in its judgment dated October 6, 2007 acquitted the two accused after nine prosecution witnesses, including police personnel in the raiding party, resiled from their statements made before the police under Section 161 of the CrPC that implicated the two accused. The resiling prosecution witnesses had stated before the court that during the search no currency (genuine or fake) was seized.
In order to redress the situation arisen in the trial because of the resiling witnesses, the bench directed the presiding officer of the court of additional sessions judge, fast track court, Ambala to file a complaint under Section 340 of CrPC (procedure for dealing cases of false statements/evidences) before a competent court highlighting the illegalities.
The bench further added, "In a situation where the trial held against the two accused clearly depicts monstrous perversities and gross abuse of process of law and yet no appeal against the acquittal of the two accused had been preferred, the court can remain a passive onlooker only at the cost of being faulted by posterity. The exercise of the writ jurisdiction to interfere with the verdict of a criminal trial must, therefore, be made."