Punjab cops ‘shield’ influential accused, face court stricture
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In a severe stricture, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday flayed the Punjab Police for attempting to save highly influential people held guilty by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of its own officers for mercilessly assaulting a tehsildar.
Justice Ranjit Singh questioned the Punjab Police "for dancing to the tunes" of Ludhiana MLA Simarjit Sigh Bains and councillor Kamaljit Singh Karwal who stand chargesheeted for a murderous assault on Major (retd) Gurjinder Singh Benipal in 2009. Benipal was attacked for protesting against the "land sharks" in Ludhiana.
Even as the SIT completed the investigation and filed a challan before a trial court in Ludhiana, the Punjab Police, apparently at the behest of Bains and Karwal, both close to political bosses in the ruling SAD-BJP government, constituted a new SIT, which in turn allegedly threatened one of the witnesses to withdraw his statements.
Holding the constitution of a new SIT as illegal, Justice Singh upheld the report filed by the first SIT and ruled that the fresh "investigation was aimed at saving some influential people." Even the public prosecutor got an earful for "acting more on the side of defence" to save the accused.
The court said that the criminal trial cannot "be reduced to mock trials or fixed trials" and asked "One would wonder in how many cases, the police will decide to investigate a case after submission of a challan on a representation of the accused as is being done in this case."
The 47-page judgment states that any investigation done by the second SIT was beyond the jurisdiction and power of the investigating agency.
On inaction of the then Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, the court ruled that "the petitioner is right in perceiving that because of the influence and political clout enjoyed by Karwal and Bains, the DC either was reluctant or was scared of taking action."
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