One Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) team is the culprit of laying two false traps against excise officials in what a hostile witness stated was a "racket of extortion".
If the last ambush led to the suicide of excise and taxation officer (ETO) Ranjit Singh, now the Patiala district court has acquitted excise inspector Naib Singh, who was caught in November 2010 by superintendent of police (SP) Amandeep Kaur, woman officer under trial in SAS Nagar for abetting the ETO's suicide.
In both raids, she led the same team of a "complainant", a "shadow witness", and a head constable. "The fact casts serious doubts upon the genuineness of even the present (Naib Singh) case; much less, it casts a duty upon the court to evaluate the testimony of both the complainant and the investigating officer with more care and caution," observed special judge Jatinder Kaur, while acquitting Naib Singh on November 26, 2013.
The judgment signed on January 16 stated that the prosecution had "failed miserably to establish the charges against the accused (Naib Singh) beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt". Around midnight on November 20, 2010, the SP had arrested the excise inspector at his Khanauri tax barrier post and by force taken his fingerprints on two currency notes of `1,000 denomination each.
Racket of extortion,
says hostile witness
To the surprise of the prosecution team, the bureau's "shadow witness", Rajiv Sood, turned hostile in one of the hearings, even dubbing "complainant" Rajinder Gopi "a tout of SP Amandeep Kaur".
Sood's bombshell blew up the prosecution case, as now Gopi was accused of lodging a false case against first Naib Singh and then late Ranjit Singh in SAS Nagar in March 2011. He stated in court that the accused were a team into extortion and entrapment, on which he played the role of a "shadow witness".
Sood went hostile in the face of the entire raiding team led by SP Amandeep Kaur in court, stating that Gopi and the SP had used him to lay both false traps.
In August 2012, the SAS Nagar police registered the case against superintendent of police Amandeep Kaur, Gopi, Sood, head constable Harminder Singh, and another accused after a special investigation team found they had trapped ETO Ranjit Singh in a false case and driven him to commit suicide after his release a month later. The SP, after evading arrest for about five months, "surrendered" on July 7, 2013. All accused are on bail in the ETO suicide case.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
Will the tainted team face the music for putting Naib Singh in a false trap? There is no direction yet. The precedence in similar cases is that the district attorney (state prosecution) writes to the state's director of prosecution to know whether it is fit to appeal against the court order.
Asked to react, Naib Singh's son, Jagroop Singh, said the court had acquitted his father and the family was yet to decide on filing any defamation case against the SP and others.