Rashid Paul

HC orders DGP to initiate departmental inquiry against former IO

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Planting of witnesses in 2010 Kathua murder case

Srinagar: The High Court has ordered the Director General (DGP) of J&K Police to initiate departmental inquiry against a former police sub inspector, Sanjeet Sharma, for planting witnesses in the murder case of a young woman in Kathua district of Jammu in 2010.

Observing “the planting of the witnesses by the   investigating officer (IO) Sanjeet Sharma (then posted as sub Inspector Ramkot) was very disturbing, the court dismissed an appeal against the acquittal of the accused in murder of Reeta Devi, in Billawar area of Kathua on 6th of May 2010”.

Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Rahul Bharti who heard the matter said acquittal appeal is lacking merit of any worth. They observed “this Court would be turning its eye from a very disturbing aspect of the case which if left untouched would be doing a serious undermining of criminal administration of justice and that is the trial court after having clearly held that the case was built upon two planted witnesses just let the matter rest there”.

The judges said the two prosecution witnesses Angrej Chand and Raj Kumar were not self planted but were found to be so planted by the cop in the case.

They further added that the conduct and act of the IO in the case can mean two things.

“One by doing so he actually let the real crime doers escape the process of law or else he (the IO) ridden by his inefficiency and incompetence took the case just a matter of file making. He did it to add to his service credit of having solved a criminal case of homicidal death of a young woman”, the judges said.

The bench observed that the very fact that in the acquittal appeal the State has not even uttered a whisper as to counter the finding of the trial court about the very two prosecution witnesses’ credibility and veracity mans “the State has also taken the fact accepted that the IO did plant two witnesses to book a family comprising of aged parents and then a minor daughter in a false accusation”, it said.

The two judge bench held that the trial court ought to have resorted to active use of provisions of law.

“This could have set a loud and clear message not only to persons volunteering false testimony in criminal case but also to the Investigation Officers that they do it at their peril without any reciprocating leniency and let off from a criminal court of law,” the bench said.

“It is too late for the court to rectify the said omission on the part of the trial court below”, it added.

It directed the DGP of J&K to order a departmental/disciplinary proceedings under the Police Rules in force against Sanjeet Sharma the then PSI Ramkot.

“In case he still continues to be in service of J&K Police, (he should) suffer the consequences of his purported misconduct as an investigation officer,” the division bench said.

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