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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Stick from HC: Are UT police really concerned about citizens?

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, November 01, 2013
First Published: 10:07 IST(1/11/2013) | Last Updated: 10:09 IST(1/11/2013)

The UT police have come in for sharp criticism from the Punjab and Haryana high court in the recent past for their callous approach. Not only has the court pulled up police officials in a number of case, but it was even forced to order personal appearance of the top brass for explanation. HT recalls some such cases.


Shoddy probe

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The most recent instance came on Wednesday when, noticing the sloppy probe being carried out into the July 22 night accident in which an Audi car had rammed into a Chevorlet Tavera taxi on the Sector 17-18 road, the HC was forced to ensure personal presence of senior superintendent of police (SSP) Naunihal Singh on October 30. Two Ghaziabad students and their taxi driver had died on the spot in the accident allegedly due to rash driving of the Audi.

Justice Amol Rattan Singh told the SSP that it was really sad that the police had not taken into custody the evidence from the spot, and one of the victims, Sahil Juneja's family had to collect and hand it over to the police: "Victim's family has to go around to collect the evidence. It is really a sad story."

Earlier, the UT police had registered the FIR against the deceased taxi driver, but when the victim's parents raised the issue, the FIR was registered against the Audi driver under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a bailable charge. Victim Sahil's parents had approached the HC for a fair probe and addition of section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) to the FIR.

The SSP conceded in court that initially the investigation was shoddy, and that had led to suspension of the investigation officer after which a special investigation team had been constituted on July 24.

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Sharmila Gupta's death in May

The HC had taken notice of the police's mishandling of the May 7 accident on a slip road in Sector 10 in which a Nayagaon resident, Sharmila Gupta, 35, had died after being hit by a Chandigarh Transport Undertaking bus, and the police reportedly did not reach the spot in time. Even when the police reached the spot they did not transfer the victim to the nearest hospital in time.

"Is this the value of humble life? This officer (cop on the spot) is saying let SHO Sahab (of Sector-3 police station) come before shifting the victim from the spot. Very unfortunate," the court had observed, and asked, "What action have you (police) taken to immediately transfer the victim to the hospital? Do you know about Supreme Court order (for immediate transfer of victim to hospital)?"

After getting the stick, the police had to order departmental inquiry against assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Satinder Singh and constables Princy, Poonam Yadav and Maninderjit Kaur. A notice was also issued to the SHO of Sector 3, Shri Prakash.

Don't just challan

The Chandigarh traffic police had come in the line of fire of the high court for not carrying out policing but merely focusing on challans. After noticing that traffic police had repeatedly failed in complying with the high court directions, justice Rajive Bhalla had to order personal presence of SSP (traffic) Maneesh Chaudhry on September 6.

"It is rather surprising that UT police and administration is unconcerned about safety of its citizens… preventive policing is absent on roads, reason [cited is] lack of staff… but it can't be an excuse for jeopardising security and safety of general public," remarked justice Bhalla.

Home Guards, mere gardeners?

The HC was surprised to know that out of the 6,500 cops in Chandigarh, there were only 350 deployed in the field on traffic duty, and Home Guards were not visible anywhere managing traffic. "Where are your Home Guards? Are they guarding houses of IPS officers and doing jobs of malis and kitchens? How many home guards do you have?" justice Bhalla had asked the Chandigarh administration's counsel.

With the observations that the police officers should first focus on the safety of citizens and then their comforts, the HC on October 4 directed the inspector general of police (IGP), RP Upadhyaya, to file his reply whether Home Guards were deputed for traffic duties or "other duties".

Curb rash driving

The HC had also noticed that the Chandigarh police were more focused on challaning the vehicles coming from outside Chandigarh, but had hardly ever taken any initiative to issue challans for rash and negligent driving in the city.

"Has anyone been challaned for rash and negligent driving till the accident had taken place?" justice Bhalla had said during the hearing of a case related to traffic issues on October 4.

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