While Balraj Singh Randhawa, a prime accused in the Akansh Sen murder case, has been declared a Proclaimed Offender (PO) two years ago, more than 3,100 people were declared proclaimed offenders in Chandigarh over the last two decades. They were declared POs by various courts at district courts complex between 1996 and 2019. The detailed list of the proclaimed offenders was updated in June.
A person is declared a proclaimed offender under Section 82 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973. If a warrant issued against a person is returned unexecuted, then a court may direct to publish a written proclamation requiring the person to appear. During the proclamation proceeding, the court can also attach the properties of suspect.
The maximum POs are wanted in police station Sector 17, Sector 34, Sector 39, Manimajra and PS Sector 31. A dedicated PO and Summon Staff comprising 67 police personnel under the supervision of Inspector Sukhdeep Singh and DSP Krishan Kumar is constituted for nabbing these offenders.
These proclaimed offenders are wanted in cases ranging from petty offences to heinous crimes.
Sources said, “1,038 POs out of 3,100 were wanted in the cases of thefts, 90 in murder cases, 740 in cheating cases, 250 in road accident cases,16 POs are wanted in molestation cases, over 54 were wanted in assaults on public servant. Over 300 offenders are those, who had been convicted by various lower courts and stopped attending the court proceedings after being granted bails by Punjab and Haryana High Court. Many are declared POs in cheque bounce cases,which fall in the category of Negotiable Instrument (NI) cases.”
A police officer said, “Three days back, a special team of 25 police officers was constituted especially for nabbing the proclaimed offenders. There is also communication gaps between the local courts, police stations and PO & Summon Staff. We are totally dependent on the photograph of declared POs on Modus-Operandi-Bureau (MoB). We have come across to some cases, in which POs were actually dead and there are some, who are alive but managed to submit their death certificates in the courts.”
PO held in gang-rape case
Meanwhile, PO and Summon Staff Thursday arrested Jeet Lal, 40, a proclaimed offender who was convicted in a gangrape case.
He was remanded in judicial custody. Jeet Lal along with two others were convicted with 10-year-imprisonment in 2000. Later, he moved an appeal in Punjab and Haryana High Court, which granted him bail in 2012. Since then he was absconding and was declared a PO in 2015.
Anyone can arrest a proclaimed offender
Advocate Harish Bhardwaj said, “Every citizen of India and any investigation agency can arrest a proclaimed offender wanted to any state police. But the reasons behind the agencies to catch the POs is the lack of coordination and lack of ground intelligence. The inter-state residential stature of criminals is also one of the hurdles for the investigation agencies.”