The Delhi High Court has asked police to explain the area of jurisdiction and mandate of the Crime Branch, also seeking an explanation on how a case of alleged property fraud, which was not a “serious crime”, had been assigned to it.
The court raised the queries while hearing a plea challenging the arrest of a couple from their residence in 2011 in connection to the case.
Sandeep Singh Bhatia and his wife Bubble Kaur, residents of Rajouri Garden, had approached the High Court in 2013, alleging the Crime Branch had violated legal provisions by arresting a woman after 11 pm and detaining her overnight at a police station. The couple had also sought legal action against the then Crime Branch station house officer for “violating” the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The petitioners, through their lawyer Rajat Wadhwa, had argued that the case could not have been transferred to the Crime Branch as it was a “property dispute”, for which separate civil proceedings had been filed in the High Court in 2011.
The bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi had raised the query earlier this week, asking for an affidavit from police on “whether property related disputes are generally assigned to the Crime Branch,” and to “place on record the relevant office order/guidelines defining the area of jurisdiction and mandate of the Crime Branch and the circumstances under which the Crime Branch takes up the complaint for investigation by registering a FIR.”
Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma, in his response filed before the court Friday, has said the Crime Branch has jurisdiction to investigate cases “over whole of NCT” and “all kinds of cases”, including property disputes that are assigned to it for investigation. The affidavit by Verma also states that standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been put in place for transfer of cases to the Crime Branch.
During the hearing Friday, the bench of Justice Sanghi observed that the SOPs and other documents supporting the jurisdiction of the Crime Branch, and the factual position regarding the arrest of the couple, had not been placed before the court. The court has directed police to submit their status report along with the relevant documents within 10 days.
The investigation in the case had been transferred to the Crime Branch by the then commissioner of police, after the property owners filed a complaint, saying police were not registering an FIR.
The duo had been arrested for allegedly forging documents to take over a property in Patel Nagar, and for filing forged documents before the trial court to support their claim on the property.