Finding it a strange coincidence that the offenders in almost all cases under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957, manage to flee from spot at time of the raid, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while indicating it could be leakage of information regarding the raid by some police official, has directed the Punjab DGP to issue appropriate instructions for taking of appropriate measures for conducting such raids with requisite secrecy.
The order was passed by the bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, while hearing the anticipatory bail plea of Bittu Ram, who has been arrested under Section 379 of the IPC, 1860 (for short ‘the IPC’) and Section 21 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 at police station Koom Kalan, Ludhiana.
As per Punjab Police, on August 25, 2020, the police party headed by ASI Kamaljit Singh received secret information that Bittu Ram after doing illegal mining near the river bridge used to sell sand at a higher rate in the city and if a raid be conducted, the accused could be apprehended on the spot. On the basis of the said information, the police party conducted raid and one tractor trolley was seen coming from the side of village Mand Chota. On seeing the police party, the driver of the tractor trolley fled leaving behind the tractor trolley filled with sand.
The counsel for Bittu Ram, advocate Ferry Sofat, argued before the HC bench that the petitioner has been falsely implicated in the case on the basis of alleged secret information and no offence under Section 379 of the IPC is made out. The petitioner is ready to join the investigation and his custodial interrogation is not necessary for effecting any recovery, argued Advocate Sofat.
The HC after hearing the matter, issued notice to Punjab, and adjourned the matter for on October 27, 2020.
The bench, meanwhile, directed petitioner to join the investigation as and when called upon to do so. The bench, however, pointed out the accused escaping the spot during raids by police in almost all cases. It held, “This coincidence in all such cases is very strange and is suggestive of either leakage of information regarding the raid to the offender by some police officer/official or manipulation of record by the police officers/officials conducting the raid who allow the offenders to escape or inefficiency of the raiding police officers/officials in suffering escape of the offenders despite their empowerment by law to use reasonable force for preventing such escape.”
The bench further stated that, “In any of the above referred eventuality remedial measures are required to be taken for ensuring efficient administration of criminal justice by arrest of the offenders on the spot in case of such raids. Further, in such cases, the police officers/officials are also expected to use audio video electronic means including still/video cameras which are readily available as part of the smart phones possessed even by the police officers/officials but such audio video electronic means are not deliberately used for some ulterior motive/extraneous considerations.”
The HC thus directed the DGP Punjab to issue appropriate instructions for taking of appropriate remedial measures for conducting of such raids with requisite secrecy to prevent escape of offenders in such cases.
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