Cops in custody till they are examined

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered that all police officers, who are witnesses in a drugs case, be taken into custody and kept in protective care in jail till they are examined and cross-examined.

The directions by Justice Rajbir Sehrawat came in a case where trial court orders were disregarded and fundamental rights of the accused violated.

The trial court proceedings were adjourned 16 times following the failure of police officers to appear as witnesses. The trial court ordered the stopping of police officers’ salary for their non-appearance, but the compliance report was not submitted. The warrants issued by the trial court against the police officers were also not executed. Justice Sehrawat directed that the trial court would issue non-bailable warrants within three days against all prosecution witnesses, who had not been examined so far.

The Judge said the Moga SP would, in turn, ensure that they were taken into custody within next seven days before being kept in protective custody at Moga district/sub-jail till the completion of their examination and cross-examination. The SHO of the Kot Ise Khan police station in Moga district was also directed to remain present in the court on the next date with details of police officials who had failed to execute warrants.

The directions came on an anticipatory bail petition by Kakka Singh against the State of Punjab in a case registered on April 2, 2016, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Paving way for his interim bail, Justice Sehrawat said the facts disclosed in the petition and orders passed by the trial court showed a “very gloomy picture of police functioning” and its “indifferent conduct” towards court proceedings.

Justice Sehrawat added the petitioner’s fundamental rights could not be scuttled in a casual manner, as done by the prosecution. As such, certain coercive and pre-emptive directions had become imperative to ensure that the petitioner’s rights as a citizen were not violated due to inefficiency and inaction of police officers/officials.

Kaka Singh had moved the HC after the bail granted to him was cancelled as he could not appear in the trial court on a hearing. He placed on record 18 orders, 16 of which were as regards adjournment by the trial court due to non-appearance of police-witnesses.

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