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HC raps Chandigarh Police, summons ex-SSP Chahal

‘Illegal detention’: Failed to assist court-appointed warrant officer

HC raps Chandigarh Police, summons ex-SSP Chahal


Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, January 28

In a major embarrassment for the Chandigarh Police, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has censured them for failure to render full assistance to a court-appointed warrant officer in an alleged illegal detention case and take timely action against “guilty officials” of the Narcotic Control Bureau.

Justice NS Shekhawat also asked the then UT SSP Kuldeep Singh Chahal to remain present for explaining his position after rapping him for not doing the needful. NCB officials were also summoned after being admonished for irresponsible attitude towards the warrant officer.

Advocate Tanu Bedi, too, was asked to assist the Bench as amicus curiae. The directions by Justice Shekhawat came on a habeas corpus for releasing a detainee.

The High Court had, on July 11 last year, directed a warrant officer’s appointment for visiting the place of detention or any other place pointed out by the petitioner. The order specifically said the warrant officer would get the detainee released if found in illegal custody. For the purpose, the warrant officer could take the assistance from the UT SSP. He was, in fact, directed to provide full assistance in case of being approached.

The officer visited the NCB office before submitting a detailed report. Among other things, he stated “very harsh language” and “abusive words” were used by the officials. He was asked to go back immediately and come during the office hours the following day in case for any enquiry. One of the officials continued to smoke while talking to the warrant officer.

Justice Shekhawat asserted that the SSP was directed to provide full assistance to the warrant officer during the entire process. However, the warrant officer was made to talk to the SSP on his personal mobile when he tried to contact him. The officer apprised him of all the facts and the irresponsible attitude of the NCB officials, which clearly disclosed the commission of a cognisable offence. Justice Shekhawat added that the SSP was under a legal obligation to provide full assistance to the warrant officer in accordance with the High Court directions and should have taken action against the erring NCB officials. But, he simply referred the officer to the Sector 11 police station, where again the officials did not bother to provide assistance. They referred the officer to the Sector 24 police post as the NCB office in Sector 25 fell within its jurisdiction. The SSP did not bother to verify the follow-up action, even though all facts were brought to his notice.

"Apart from that, even the police officials were well aware of the fact that FIR could have been registered only in the police station and not in police post…. On the next date of hearing, intelligence officer Rahul Saini, constables Jai Singh, Vipin Kumar and Ramesh Kumar are directed to remain present before the court during the course of hearing," Justice Shekhawat asserted.

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