Police launching a manhunt to arrest an absconding criminal is common. What is not common is the reluctance to arrest an accused. A strange situation came to light on Monday in a case in the Delhi High Court, which slammed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence for not taking into custody an accused in an NDPS case despite his repeated requests.
Satpal Juneja was arrested nine years ago at the IGI airport minutes before he was to board a British Airways flight to London. He had allegedly tried to smuggle heroin concealed in 10 pairs of women’s sandals. Juneja was granted interim bail by the lower court on February 1 this year to undergo treatment at a hospital after he fell ill.
His lawyer SN Gupta said the interim bail expired on February 28 and on the same day Juneja moved an application before the trial court seeking a direction to the DRI to arrest him from the hospital. But no one came to arrest him.
Juneja, who has been asking to get arrested for more than a month now realises the situation could go against him at a time when his regular bail plea was being heard by the lower court. In the petition before the Delhi High Court, he clearly wanted to drive home the point that it was the DRI which was not arresting him and that he was not absconding, a plea which the prosecution, he fears, may take later.
An angry Justice S. Muralidhar has now summoned Akhilesh Rao, Intelligence Officer of the DRI, to remain present in the court on April 15 with records of the case. Additional Public Prosecutor Pawan Behl submitted before Justice Muralidhar that he would communicate the court’s order to the Tihar jail superintendent to seek explanation as to why consequential steps had not been taken when Juneja did not report to the jail on the date of expiry of the interim bail.