Acquitting two convicts in a 2011 murder case, the Delhi High Court Monday asked the Police Commissioner to look into the conduct and manner of investigation undertaken by police officers and take appropriate action against them.
The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said a constable projected by police as an eyewitness was planted to “solve” the case. It also said it has found testimonies of the police officers hard to believe in the absence of corroboration from any public witness. “We are pained to say that because of lackadaisical approach of IO and SHO of this case, the entire investigation has been botched. PW 11 Ct. Kuldeep has been cited as an eyewitness by IO and SHO but no action has been taken against him in not reporting the matter immediately… in such a serious offence. They even fail to take or recommend any action against him. Rather, they shielded him when questioned…,” said the order.
The case pertains to the murder of Laxmi Nagar resident Atul Jain on March 6, 2011, following which Rs 8.5 lakh was allegedly stolen from him at Mangal Bazar. Police arrested Mustakeem Bhura, Arshad, Zaki Anwar and Nadeem in the case. The HC Monday acquitted Bhura, who was convicted for murder and robbery, and Arshad, who was convicted for robbery in February 2018.
In his testimony, beat constable Kuldeep Singh had said he was posted with Shakurpur police station on the day of murder and heard the sound of a bullet at 8 pm in Mangal Bazar. He claimed to have chased the accused, who fled on a motorcycle. He had then come back to the crime scene without informing the SHO or local police station through his phone or wireless set, as per the order, which also notes that he failed to inform the police team that reached the spot later.
“Stony silence on the part of PW 11 further makes us believe it was a blind murder case, not witnessed by PW11. His keeping quiet for more than a day and waiting for SHO only suggests he, along with SHO, wanted to deliberate upon the incident and look for ways to crack (it),” reads the order.
ACP Ravinder Kumar Sharma, the then SHO, had said in his statement that he came to know of the assailants’ identity at the police station from constable Kuldeep around lunch time the next day. Regarding his conduct, the bench said, “We fail to understand why this identity was not mentioned by PW 11 Ct. Kuldeep in his statement given to IO… later in the evening. PW 47 SHO is also silent about identity of assailants given by constable Kuldeep… strangely enough, SHO does not call for a sketch artist to get sketches of assailants prepared. This shows how investigation has been botched up and SHO and IO had managed to ‘solve’ this case.”
“We are aware there is no rule of law or evidence which lays down that unless… testimony of police official is corroborated by independent evidence, the same cannot be believed. But it is a rule of prudence that a more careful scrutiny of evidence of police officials is required, since they can be said to be interested in the result of the case projected by them,” said the order.
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