The special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday convicted retired Punjab Police inspector Joginder Singh in a two-decade-old kidnapping case.
However, the court acquitted former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Ajaib Singh, former assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Shyam Lal and former sub-inspector (SI) Hazoor Singh as the prosecution agency failed to prove the charges against them. Another accused, superintendent of police (SP) Madanjit Singh, had died in 2012.
The case was registered in 1994 on the complaint of Dharam Singh, who had alleged that his sons Balwinder Singh and Gurinder Singh (both in their twenties) had been kidnapped by cops from Partap Nagar, Patiala, and subsequently eliminated.
The Punjab and Haryana high court had handed over the probe to the CBI in 1997 as the names of several police officials figured in the FIR, which was registered under sections 302 (murder) and 102-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The investigation was initially conducted by DS Bhullar, then additional director general of police (ADGP), and thereafter by then ADGP BP Tiwari. Later, the CBI, while probing the case, had failed to find evidence of death of the missing persons, but had charged the officials with abduction and wrongful confinement under sections 365, 368 and 343 of the IPC.
The CBI said the investigation revealed that Balwinder was abducted by Joginder, Hazoor, Shyam Lal and others from his house on March 26, 1993. As per the CBI, Balwinder was taken to then SP Madanjit Singh and then DSP Ajaib Singh, who kept him in illegal confinement. On April 2, 1993, Dharam Singh approached Joginder for the release of his son; the cop demanded Rs 20,000 as bribe and asked Dharam to present his other son, Gurinder, before the police. As per the deal, Dharam gave Rs 20,000 and produced Gurinder, but the accused, instead of releasing Balwinder, also held Gurinder in captivity, the CBI said in the chargesheet (submitted in 2000). Later, the police registered a false case under Gurinder and showed that he had escaped from police custody on April 23, 1993, the CBI said.
The CBI mentioned in the chargesheet that the cops were in league to extort money and held both youths (still missing) in illegal confinement.
Announcing the judgment, special CBI judge Japinder Singh held Joginder guilty and acquitted the others.
"As the charges against Joginder are serious in nature, I am for stringent punishment of more than three years. Thus, I am forwarding the case to the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) to pronounce the quantum of sentence," the judge said. As per the provision, a judicial magistrate (first class) can only pronounce sentence up to three years; for higher quantum of sentence, the case has to be shifted to the CJM. The latter will pronounce the sentence on Monday.