Observing that Chandigarh Police is an incompetent and helpless investigating agency, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday directed the UT Director General of Police T S Luthra to appear in person on Thursday after noting that the Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the Haryana Civil Services (Judicial) preliminary examination 2017 paper leak case, has not taken its task seriously and instead an accused from behind the bars has put the investigating agency in the dock.
During the hearing of the case in which a full bench of the High Court is monitoring the SIT investigation of the paper leak in which its former Registrar (Recruitment) Balwinder Kumar Sharma is the prime accused, the bench of Justices Rajesh Bindal, Rajan Gupta and Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia said the court would not shut its eyes to what it described as throwing “chilli in our eyes” as it grilled the UT Police and its prosecution department for its conduct at the trial stage of the case.
The full bench asked UT Counsel Senior Advocate Randeep Singh Rai as to how the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 164 CrPC were provided to the accused when the investigation is admittedly yet to be completed by the SIT and why an Assistant District Attorney was assigned the trial case despite its serious nature.
Rai said a barrage of applications had been filed by the accused in the trial court before every hearing and all of them were allowed, while also conceding that the April 10 trial court order allowing the preservation of call details of private and official numbers, the SIT members make them (SIT) appear look accused in the case and should have been challenged long back. He added that after the approval of the UT Legal Remembrancer on Tuesday, it will be challenged on Thursday and also the District Attorney has now been assigned the case at the trial court.
“Let us tell you what is happening. He (Sharma) has made you an accused. You are on the defence. All your channels will be closed by him and you are happy. Probably, you are an accused. He is behind bars…Somebody behind the bars has put the investigating agency in the dock,” the full bench said.
The full bench also noted that the trend of the applications seeking the statements of witnesses and preservation of call records had begun in January itself when Sharma had moved the application before the trial court and said that it was a “sorry state of affairs” that even the full bench had not been apprised of the developments and even there had been no opposition from the prosecution in the trial court against the April 10 order.
Stating that the bench has been tasked with monitoring the probe and the prosecution could have filed an application apprising it of such attempts in the trial court, the full bench, while asserting the seriousness of the investigation, said the SIT was specifically created for the purpose of investigation and otherwise, the case could have also been assigned to a sub-inspector – who also “would have created this mess”.
“This is all eyewash. What is the fun of the sealed cover. It is all in the open,” said the court after observing that the file containing statements of the witnesses had not been produced in a sealed cover. While Rai said it had been in the open only for the purpose of the court’s eyes, the bench said, “We are in India. What are you saying. Every centimetre of file, he will have…”.
While the full bench also observed that there is no manual for the police to follow to protect the documents from unauthorised access, it lambasted the SIT and said, “You thought of giving everything. Give the CDs also,” and at the end of the hearing, called the documents an “open secret”.
“You said the DIG (DIG Om Prakash Mishra) will be monitoring the case. What is he doing? All incompetent. Your (UT counsel said he is busy and cannot be the SIT head but he will be monitoring the probe. He is also equally incompetent. We have not seen these type of things,” the court observed.
The full bench also said, “You (SIT) may have a different motive. Now we will also see that” and asked the UT counsel whether the investigation was still on or had come to a standstill. Rai responded that there were “various dimensions” about the pending aspects of the case and they would certainly file a supplementary chargesheet but that will take time.
While adjourning the case to Thursday, the full bench said it will have to monitor the probe on a day-to-day basis, adding, “They (SIT) are in dock also. He (Sharma) has made them dance to his tunes. This is an helpless investigating agency.”
The SIT comprises SP Ravi Kumar Singh, DSP Krishan Kumar and Inspector Poonam Dilawari. It was constituted by the full bench after it had rejected a plea for a CBI probe into the paper leak.