The Punjab government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the infamous Shalimar Resorts gambling case of October 2011 involving senior police officers and some prominent citizens.
As per the order, dated December 17, 2014, Amarjeet Singh Katari, a retired additional sessions judge will conduct the inquiry. The order has been signed by Jagpal Singh Sandhu, additional chief secretary and in charge of the home department.
“The inquiry report will be submitted to the state government as soon as possible,” states the order, a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times.
The judge will specifically look into the role of the police officers then posted in Amrirsar and whose names had cropped up in the case and were a part of the party that conducted a raid on the resort after being informed that a “large scale gambling” was going on there.
Allegations that the gambling money was “usurped” by the cops will specifically be looked into by the inquiry judge.
Background of the case
On October 8, 2011, the Amritsar police had raided Shalimar Resorts and arrested some people in connection with gambling and recorded a recovery of Rs 7.4 lakh, which was listed as gambling money recovered from the spot.
A case under the Gambling Act was registered at the Sadar police station against only 42 people despite the fact that over 200 were present inside the resort and were gambling. No case was registered against the owners of the resort.
However a couple of days later, news reports appeared regarding embezzlement of a large portion of the gambling money, which was not part of the recovery shown. These allegations forced the then Amritsar police commissioner RP Mittal to order an inquiry.
On the basis of an inquiry, inspector Jagbir Singh, the then station house officer (SHO) of the Gate Hakiman, Amritsar, and three assistant sub-inspectors (ASIs) were suspended by the police commissioner.
Punjab Human Rights Organisation inquiry
The matter, however, did not rest there, as the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), after talking to a number of people who were present in the resort on the night of October 8, started conducting an inquiry.
According to the PHRO inquiry report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court, the gambling spree started at 9:30pm, wheras about 1:30am, a police team comprising Bahadur Singh, the then ADCP (crime), Amritsar; Jaswant Singh ACP, traffic, inspector Jagbir Singh, lady inspectors Kamalmeet Kaur and Rajpal Kaur, along with their readers, gunmen and staff raided the resort, while the ADCP, ACP and the SHO of the police station and chowki in charge of that area were not informed.
The report says the raiding party after sealing the resort went about collecting the money from the tables where the people were found gambling and consuming liquor.
As per the report, as many as 223 people were rounded-up and their names, addresses and mobile numbers were noted down. Later, following the orders of ADCP Bahadur Singh, the gambling money collected by the raiding party was handed over to inspector Jagbir Singh, who in turn handed it over to his gunmen Farchand and Shera.
“However, after police lost the control over the situation as, by then, a large number of people from the city had gathered outside the resort and had started raising slogans against the cops. As some very influential persons were also present on the spot, the cops in a hurry left the place with the gambling money,” the PHRO report stated while claiming that the police let off most of the people and only booked 42.
As per PHRO findings and claims, the raiding party had seized Rs 1.23 crores from the resort, but showed that just Rs 7.4 lakh put on record. The report also pointed out that a senior police officer was paid a huge sum out of the gambling money.
Though the entire raid was videoed, instead of using this as evidence against the accused, it was used for collecting money by blackmailing the accused.
The PHRO had sent its findings to the chief minister on October 18, 2011, which led to an inquiry by Shrad Satya Chohan, IPS, IG (traffic).
Due to delay in the inquiry, PHRO through its chairman Ajit Singh Bains filed a petition before the HC in October 2011 for completion of the inquiry.
On the basis of the petition, the court issued notice to the state of Punjab and others and reply was sought. However, during this period, Chohan completed his inquiry and filed his report before the government in December 2012, but action on recommendations was again delayed.
Finally on May 28, 2013 FIR No.99 U/s 384, 506, 34 IPC was registered at the Sadar police station in Amritsar against inspector Jagbir Singh and others and they were arrested.
On directions of the high court, a challan was presented against the accused in a Amritsar court. On the other hand, a departmental inquiry was started against then ADCP Bahadur Singh and ACP Jaswant Singh as per the recommendations of the Chohan’s report. Both the officers were suspended, but later reinstated.
As the next date of hearing before the HC is January 12, the Punjab government took the decision to get the matter inquired by a retired judge.