THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court Friday pulled up the Panchkula police for delay in filing criminal charges before the lower court for trial of its own men, including a head constable, who are accused in the case of a violent assault against three lawyers in April at a dhaba in Sector 10, Panchkula. The police were also grilled for dropping the charge of attempt to murder in the chargesheet filed against four accused to date. A month’s time has been given to the SIT to complete the probe.
“We will not pull any punches in observing against the State and its functionaries. Why are you dragging your feet? It is such a small matter,” observed the full bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justices Rajiv Sharma and Rakesh Kumar Jain during the resumed hearing of a suo motu case regarding the incident which resulted in suspension of work for at least four days by lawyers in protest. Section 307 (attempt to murder) was added to the FIR only after the lawyers persisted for it during their protest.
On the intervening night of April 21 and 22, three High Court advocates were allegedly attacked by some people at a dhaba in Sector 10, Panchkula. One of the advocates is also said to have suffered head injuries in the incident. While the lawyers were attacked by at least 10-15 people, three police personnel also allegedly came to the spot later but instead of rescuing the lawyers, they were said to have assaulted them.
Senior advocate Anupam Gupta, appearing for the Bar Association, said the complicity between the accused and police department is at the heart of the assault as a head constable and two others were also involved in the incident. Gupta argued that the police were literally letting off the accused by deleting the Section 307 (attempt to murder) from the case and that too without the High Court permission, adding that the accused attacked the lawyers with a broken glass bottle on the head.
While Additional Advocate General Pawan Girdhar kept submitting that the investigation is still on, the court after perusing the status report of the SIT said it is not the injury but the intention which matters when it comes to the attempt to murder charge, adding that the PGI medical report clearly says the injuries are on the head.
“How did you delete 307? You do not come to us. You dropped it on our own,” observed the court, which has been monitoring the case since the beginning.
‘No challan against accused police officials’
The court was informed that a total of nine accused and a juvenile were arrested in the case but only four accused have been chargesheeted in the case to date. A report has also been presented before the Juvenile Board regarding the involvement of minor. The challan has not been filed against the dhaba owner and accused police officials to date.
During the hearing, the court said it does not find even a single mention in the status report of the SIT regarding the action taken against accused Head Constable Sunil Kumar and two other police officials.
“What investigation has been done? What action has been taken against them on the departmental side?” asked the court. The government counsel responded that the two officials have been repatriated to the Home Guard and Kumar has been suspended with departmental proceedings initiated against him.
The court asked the police as to why they have not been made accused in the case when they were particularly named by the victims of the attack. While the government counsel responded that it was waiting for the CFSL report, the court reprimanded the police for delay and observed that only one out of the five accused named by the complainants have been chargesheeted so far.
“You have to promise action and that will be the end of the investigation. You have left out the main people. We are not satisfied. We do not want to change them (SIT) at this stage. Be vigilant to avoid an ‘untoward’ order. Had it been the Madhya Pradesh…. we would have understood. This is a small state. A DGP was called here (earlier). The things should have moved in a week,” observed the court.