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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Patiala gangrape: HC gives forensic lab 3 days to submit viscera report

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, January 08, 2013
First Published: 12:37 IST(8/1/2013) | Last Updated: 00:09 IST(9/1/2013)

Finding Punjab police's "insensitivity" and "lack of prompt action" in registering the FIR and investigating the Patiala gangrape case, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Chandigarh forensic science laboratory to submit the victim's viscera report within three days along with directions to the special investigation team (SIT) to complete the probe within a week thereafter.

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The victim, a minor girl, was abducted from Samana in Patiala district and thereafter gangraped on November 13. She had committed suicide on December 26.
When the matter came up for hearing before the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on Tuesday, the visibly anguished bench said, "Nobody even tried to see the plight of the victim who was subjected to the said offence which drew her to commit suicide."

Stating the case to be "an eyeopener for the investigating agencies", the bench was of the opinion that detailed and appropriate guidelines were required to be framed for police officials as to how such cases needed to be investigated.
The bench said, "It hardly needs to be emphasised that for such offences the police not only is required to register the case immediately but also investigate the same with promptitude."

After going through the Punjab police SIT's status report, the bench observed that even when such a "gruesome offence" was allegedly committed on November 13 and the police was approached on November 14 for the registration of the FIR, it took 13 days to register the FIR on November 27. The court added that thereafter for almost a month, no action was taken by the police officials in the case.

Expressing its displeasure, the bench said, "The victim and her family were asked inappropriate and demeaning questions (by police)," and cops "kept on pressurising the family to compromise the matter."

The chief justice stated that for speedy trial of such cases, directions had already been issued on the administrative side for consideration of fast-track courts. The bench also directed the Chandigarh judicial academy for preparing guidelines/bench book for sensitising and training judicial officers who would be manning the fast-track courts; and to conduct training courses for these officers.

Inviting suggestions from all counsels, including government counsels, the bench said the case should not be treated as "adversarial litigation".
When the counsel appearing for sub-inspector (SI) Nasib Singh - booked for abetment to suicide   requested the bench that he wanted to file the reply, the bench directed him to make his statement before the SIT and also directed the latter to forward his statement along with other record of the case to the court.

In its report, the SIT headed by inspector general of police (zone-1, Patiala) PS Gill informed the court that the station house officer of Ghagga police station, SI Gurcharan Singh, as well as Badshahpur police post incharge Nasib Singh, did not take any action against the accused. Rather, Nasib Singh kept pressurising the victim's family to compromise the matter. It was informed that deputy superintendent of police, Patran, Harpreet Singh had been suspended and both Gurcharan and Nasib dismissed from service.

The report also mentioned that the police had arrested the accused, Gurpreet Singh, Balwinder Singh, Shinderpal Kaur and Sandeep Singh. The court was also informed that remedial measures were taken by police to prevent such occurrences in future.
The bench adjourned the case for the next hearing on January 22.

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