Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014

Star witness turned hostile, and the police engaged no independent witness

The police dress used by the accused.  express archives The police dress used by the accused. express archives
Written by Shishir Tripathi | Chandigrah | Posted: January 26, 2014 4:26 am

Apart from the apparent loopholes in the shoddy police investigation that led to acquittal of all the accused arrested on charges of having committed the sensational dacoity, many questions still remained unanswered despite a detailed judgment in the case. And the main question is: if all the accused who now stand acquitted had not committed the dacoity, then who did it?

It is not yet clear as to how did the jewellery and cash that was stolen from the showroom landed in the possession of the accused, who were only held guilty of possessing the stolen items.

The accused were acquitted of the charges of dacoity, possessing illegal weapons and poisoning the guards of the showroom as the “prosecution failed to bring sufficient cogent, convincing and clinching evidence to prove the 395, 328, 171 of Indian Penal Code and 25/54/59 of Arms Act”, reads the judgement.

The two guards of the showroom, Swaran Singh and Dina Nath, were the star witnesses of this case. During the trial, Swaran Singh did not support the prosecution version and retracted from his previous statement given to the police. Dina Nath was also the star witness but was not examined by the prosecution. There is no action initiated against Swaran Singh for having turned hostile.

There is a mandatory requirement for engaging an independent witness while conducting raids in such cases, but the Chandigarh Police never did so. The same loophole was used by the defence counsel. “It is worth pointing out at the very outset that the raid was conducted on the secret information, but no independent witness was joined in the raiding party despite availability. The case of the prosecution solely rests on the official witnesses. No doubt, the statements of the officials cannot be discarded because of their official status and they are as good witness as any other person, but at the same time this fact cannot be lost sight that the police personnel generally take certain steps for the success of their case. Therefore, as a matter of caution, the statements of the police officials are to be scrutinised more minutely.”

According to the prosecution, the accused administered some intoxicants to Dina Nath and Swarn Singh. However, the prosecution could not prove their case under this section too.

Dr Yuvraj Singh Cheema, one of the prosecution witnesses, while deposing before the court “categorically stated that he did not take stomach wash to detect the substance administered or taken by the patient. No alleged history was given by the accompanying official as to how the patient became non-oriented”.

The court held, “It is imperative to mention here that Swaran Singh who was deputed as chowkidar did not support the prosecution version and also he did not state anything regarding intoxication given to him nor Yuvraj Singh Cheema supported the prosecution version as he did not take stomach continued…

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