More than four years after a youth from Mohali and his friend died under mysterious circumstances in what the police claimed was an accident in Rajpura, the Supreme Court has directed the Punjab Police to register a case of murder and passed strictures on it for ignoring a senior police officer’s report which indicated murder.
The court also directed the state to pay a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh to the victim’s father, and held a challan already presented by the police in the case as illegal.
According to the initial investigation, Gagandeep Singh Bains, an MBA student of Thapar University, and his friend Gaurav Verma died when their SUV rammed a stationary truck on the night of September 27, 2010 near Liberty Chowk in Rajpura. Two of their friends, Zorawar Singh and Jaskaran Singh, suffered injuries.
However, Gagandeep’s father Gurbax Singh Bains, a Mohali-based advocate, alleged foul play in the incident and moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He contended that his son had been murdered and the incident had been camouflaged as an accident. He accused Zorawar, son of a former Patiala Sub-Divisional Magistrate, and Jaskaran of murder.
A subsequent inquiry conducted by DIG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh held that Gagandeep was murdered. His report indicated that a fight took place between two different parties who arrived at the spot in different cars, and that custodial interrogation of concerned persons was required.
However, the Punjab Police refused to accept his report and constituted an SIT which was later disbanded by the state government. In March last year, the HC directed the state to register a case of murder, but Zorawar filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, which has now held the HC’s order ‘completely justified’ and dismissed his SLP.
The Supreme Court said despite the HC’s directions, the Punjab Police not only ignored DIG Pratap’s findings, but constituted an SIT which was disbanded by the state government. Later, another SIT was constituted which went ahead and filed a challan in the case, dismissing the incident as an accident.
Without going into the merits of the case, the court said the challan filed by a former Mohali Superintendent of Police, who was part of the illegally constituted SIT, stands withdrawn. The court has directed the police to conduct a thorough investigation after registering a case of murder and also asked the Punjab Chief Secretary to hold an inquiry into the manner in which the case was dealt by the state police and submit a report.