Punjab and Haryana High Court acquits Sirsa Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 4 others in Ranjit Singh murder case : The Tribune India

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Punjab and Haryana High Court acquits Sirsa Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 4 others in Ranjit Singh murder case

‘Investigating officers carried out tainted and sketchy probe following media glare surrounding the event’

Punjab and Haryana High Court acquits Sirsa Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, 4 others in Ranjit Singh murder case

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. File photo

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik 

Chandigarh, May 28

More than two years after the CBI Special Judge convicted and sentenced Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to life imprisonment in Ranjit Singh murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday acquitted the Dera Sacha Sauda chief and four others after observing that the investigating officers carried out “tainted and sketchy probe” following media glare surrounding the event.

The Bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Lalit Batra also asserted that the investigating officers collected evidence unworthy of credence. It observed that the instant case starkly portrayed the necessity of the courts to make an incisive and objective analysis of the evidence existing on record, rather than allowing it to become stultified through a proactive media trial of the purported incriminatory role of the accused vis-a-vis the crime event.

The Bench also made it clear that media trials were not at all required to be the ‘guiding regimen’ for objective evaluations of evidence on record and the ‘strictest principles of evidentiary logic’ were required to be applied, but the intellectual strength of the investigating officer apparently became static due to the glare of media publicity surrounding the crime event.

A case for murder and other offences was registered on July 10, 2002, under Sections 120-B, 302 and 34 of the IPC after dera manager Ranjit Singh was shot by four assailants at his native Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra.

The complainant-father, during the course of investigation, told the police that the dera followers had killed Ranjit Singh as they suspected him behind the circulation of the anonymous letter alleging sexual exploitation of ‘sadhvis’ by Ram Rahim. The investigation was later transferred by the high court to the CBI.

In its 163-page verdict, the Bench asserted that there were multiple lapses in the probe conducted by the investigating agency. Describing the probe as “faulty”, the Bench asserted that the car, allegedly used in the commission of the crime, was never seized. Three prosecution witnesses stated that all four assailants were armed, but none of the weapons was seized by the CBI. It did not prepare a site plan of the place where the alleged conspiracy was hatched, it said.

It said the CBI did not collect evidence about a restaurant, where a prosecution witness allegedly saw two accused openly celebrating the murder. It failed to examine the owners or the workers. Even after taking over the investigation by the CBI, steps were not taken to get test identification parade of two of the accused conducted. Only a ‘sham’ photo identification was made, which was naturally not equivalent to a validly made test identification parade, it added.

The Bench also observed that the recovery of weapons of offence was not efficaciously related to the crime or to its user.

The appellants in the matter were represented, among others, by senior advocates RS Rai, R Basant and Sonia Mathur with Gautam Dutt and PS Ahluwalia and other counsel.

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#Central Bureau of Investigation CBI #Dera Sacha Sauda #Gurmeet Ram Rahim #Sirsa

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