In a recent order on December 19, whereby 12 people were acquitted of stealing passports from Regional Passport Office in 2006 and using them as genuine, the Chandigarh district court has observed that “…the recovered memos (passports) seem to be doubtful and the same cannot be believed…”
The court stated that all the attesting witnesses of the recovery of passports were only police officials, that too of Chandigarh Police, whereas the recovered passports showed that the recovery had been made beyond the jurisdiction of Chandigarh and the police officials had every option to either join an independent witness at the time of recovery or to associate the local police officials at the time of recovery but the police officials failed to do so. Hence, “the recovered memos (passports) seem to be doubtful and the same cannot be believed”.
JMIC (Judicial Magistrate First Class) Gurkiran Singh had acquitted 12 people — Raj Kumar of Patiala, Neeru of Kapurthala, Bharat Ghai of Jalandhar, Amarjit Singh of Kapurthala, Upjit Singh of Mohali, Joginder Pal of New Delhi, Naval Kishore Verma of New Delhi, Ram Sawrup Bhatt of New Delhi, Sharam Singh, Harkanwar Singh and Gian Kaur, all three of Kapurthala, Gurjinder Singh — on December 19. Three persons — Tejinder Pal Singh, Parveen Patel and Bhupinder Singh — have been declared proclaimed offender in the case while one of the accused is a juvenile who is facing trial at the juvenile court in Chandigarh.
The case was based on the allegations by the then Superintendent, Regional Passport Office, Sector 34, Chandigarh, in 2006. As per the complaint, a bundle consisting of 49 printed passports along with relevant files were found missing from the office. The accused held were charged with hatching a criminal conspiracy in 2006 to use stolen passports from the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, to impersonate. The remaining accused were held later by the police. A total of 10 passports and their photocopies were recovered from the accused.
The judgment mentions, “…the prosecution has examined 14 witnesses in support of its case but there is not even a single witness who has clarified or has given any evidence to show that there was any meeting of minds of the accused persons or they had any common object to commit forgery or to retain the stolen articles. The factum with regard to hatching of any conspiracy between the accused persons is not proved from any evidence produced…”
The judgment read, “…there is no evidence to link the fact that accused Gurjinder Singh or accused Raj Kumar have any proximity with each other and they had any common object to commit any such offence. Mere oral assertion of the prosecution cannot be held to be enough to prove the allegations against the two accused persons…”
Commenting on the allegation of any forgery or impersonation by them, the court held that from the testimony of SI Charanjit Singh and Inspector Gurmukh Singh, members of the investigation team, it is clear that the accused persons have nothing to do with forgery of any passport or any impersonation by accused Raj Kumar or the juvenile. The judgment mentioned that the investigation officers have clarified that the passports recovered from the accused persons were genuine documents and did not contain any sort of forgery or change and the passports allegedly recovered from the accused persons were in the same state as they were alleged to be stolen. Hence, it is clear that the accused persons have not committed any forgery of any passport nor they impersonated any person in this regard.
On the allegation against accused Bharat Ghai, Gurjinder Singh and N K Verma, who as per prosecution were found in possession of passports, the court held that “…the prosecution never examined any witness to show that the recovery of the passports from the accused persons was actually the recovery of the stolen articles…”
“The prosecution has mentioned in the recovery memos that the accused persons got recovered the stolen passports bearing same number but it is admitted by the IO SI Charanjit Singh that the said passports were never shown to the passport authority to clarify or verify as to whether the said passports were actually the same passports which were stolen from the office of Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh. Therefore, the prosecution has not been able to link the present recovered passports to the passports allegedly stolen from the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh,” read the judgment.
When contacted, the then IO of the case, Charanjit Singh, said, “There were many investigating officers apart from me in the case. The acquittal of the accused is not in my knowledge.”