Jalandhar (Punjab), Oct 2 (IANS) The Punjab police may be on the hot trail of many criminals but it seems deliberately unmindful of the 25 proclaimed offenders in its own ranks.
Despite being declared proclaimed offenders (POs) by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Patiala town in June this year and later being directed to surrender by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, these 25 policemen continue to hold important assignments in the Jalandhar district.
The police officials, including one deputy superintendent of police (DSP), several sub-inspectors, head constables and constables, were accused of killing three people in a staged gunbattle in this Punjab district in 1992. The case was investigated by the CBI, which found the officials guilty.
The officials were declared POs after they defied orders of the CBI court for 11 years and did not attend any court proceedings in the matter. Even directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court asking them to surrender were not complied with.
Senior police officials in the Punjab police told IANS that as per service rules, the police officials declared POs by the Patiala court should have been dismissed from service within 30 days but that did not happen in this case.
The accused officials had moved the high court seeking quashing of the CBI court orders declaring them POs. However, the high court dismissed their plea last month, directing them to surrender.
Taking exception to the police officials evading the law, the high court observed: 'They are proclaimed offenders. Serving police officials are fugitives and still looking for special treatment. The court can certainly ask as to why they have not been arrested. The respective senior superintendent of police has to do a lot of explaining.'
Asking the police officials to surrender before the CBI court, the high court said: 'Enough is enough. It is high time that the petitioners are now made to face trial. They have already delayed it for more than a decade and a half.'
Following the high court's latest orders, the police officials have proceeded on leave or have gone underground.
'We have received the court orders. Action will be taken against these policemen as per law. The police officials have been absent from duty since last month,' Jalandhar Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) Satinder Singh told IANS.
The staged gunbattle took place Sep 6, 1992 when Ram Singh, the then station house officer (SHO) of Lambra police station here (who has now been promoted as DSP) and 24 police officials under him allegedly killed three men in a fake encounter at Chitti Mod near Lambra.
The victims, Vijaypal Singh, Rajwinder Singh and Mukhtiar Singh, were detained at Lambra police station in a bomb blast case at the Jalandhar police lines Oct 30, 1991.
After it emerged that the gunbattle might have been staged, the police officials tried to take shelter behind the Disturbed Areas Act, which gave police special powers in terrorist affected areas.
The high court handed over the probe into this case to the CBI, which found the officials guilty of the multiple murders. The CBI registered a case against the officials in February 1997.
The accused police officials did not appear before the CBI court in Patiala and tried to move higher courts to get the proceedings against them stayed.
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