Taking a serious note of averments alleging ill-treatment meted out to police personnel even after being withdrawn from SK Asthana, suspended inspector general (IG) of police, Punjab vigilance bureau, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab chief secretary to look into the matter and submit a report.
The division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said, "The court would be compelled to treat the case as a contempt of court if the cops who had approached the court against misuse of powers by Asthana are harassed."
The directions came during resumed hearing of a petition filed by Panchkula resident SK Nayyar, alleging that Asthana had retained police personnel more than the authorised number at his residence here as "personal servants" since the time he was posted as senior superintendent of police at Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Barnala and Patiala, and also deputy inspector general (DIG), Patiala range.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate AK Walia contended that though the cops withdrawn from Asthana had been sent back to the police lines, they were not given posting orders. He also submitted that head constable Avtar Singh's service revolver was still with Asthana. Walia added that a departmental inquiry was initiated against head constable Kuldeep Singh on Asthana's directions, allegedly on the charges of insubordination for not escorting his (Asthana's) friend, a jeweller, to New Delhi. But the inquiry is still going on, he said.
Representing the state government, additional advocate general Atul Lakhanpal told the court that Asthana had been placed under suspension on October 19 and the extra police personnel attached with him were sent back to their parent units.
MS Chinna, assistant inspector general of police (welfare and litigation), Punjab, informed the court through his reply that an officer of the rank of IG was authorised for a total number of 11 police personnel six personal security officers and five guards. He added that an additional director general of police had been deputed to review the security of all senior officers in the state so that the officers had security as per specified norms.
The case would now come up for hearing on December 6.