In an exemplary action, the police have booked retired deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Harbhajan Singh, the investigating officer in the Nabha family murder case, for conducting a shoddy investigation which led to the acquittal of the accused.
Harbhajan has been booked under sections 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 217 (public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment) of the IPC after the special investigation team (SIT) indicted him for helping the murder accused, Amritbir Singh, get acquitted.
The SIT was set up by deputy inspector general (DIG) LK Yadav after Hindustan Times reported Amritbir’s acquittal. Amritbir’s father Iqbal Singh, mother Jaswinder Kaur, grandfather Hamir Singh and cousin Gurmanbir Kaur had been found murdered in their house at Nabha in Patiala district on August 12, 2010.
The local district and sessions court had acquitted Amritbir last month due to ‘lack of evidence’.
The Special Investigation Team stated that shoddy investigation and concealment of facts and evidence, including fingerprint and ballistic reports, had led to the acquittal in a case in which the public was anticipating a major punishment.
The Special Investigation Team also found Harbhajan guilty of preparing a ‘weak’ challan and including some relatives of the accused as witnesses to favour him (Amritbir).
“Despite a heinous case in which a person murdered four members of his family for quick inheritance of property, the investigating officer failed in his duty to follow the law… with mala fide intention and doing dishonesty with his job, he helped the accused by concealing facts and important evidence, including relatives of the accused as witnesses. Thus, an FIR must be registered against him (Harbhajan) to set an example,” reads the Special Investigation Team report.
Ironically, the Special Investigation Team has found enough evidence to nail the accused.
In its report, the Special Investigation Team, led by superintendent of police (SP) Pritpal Singh Thind, said there was also suspicion of corruption by Harbhajan, who was the SHO at Nabha police station when the crime took place. Harbhajan retired as DSP in 2011.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, DIG LK Yadav said the police would file an appeal against Amritbir’s acquittal. “We have collected vital scientific evidence, which then station house officer (SHO), with mala fide intention, did not present in the court, bringing a bad name to the police. With the new evidence, we will take the case to its logical end to set an example,” he added.
He said another SIT, headed by Barnala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Surjit Singh, had been formed to look into the monetary benefits which the ex-DSP got from the accused, apart from probing his assets.
Harbhajan could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.