Monday, February 27, 2017

What’s so special about Special Investigation Teams? ; 10 out of 12 SITs in last 5 years failed to serve any purpose: RTI reply

Indian Express‎‎‎: Chandigarh: Monday, February 27, 2017.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s nephew Akansh Sen was run over by a BMW driven by Balraj Singh Randhawa (yet absconding) and his friend Harmehtab Singh Farid (currently in judicial custody). The very next day, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to nab the accused. Farid, a great grandson of Gian Singh Rarewala, former chief minister of princely state Pepsu, could only be arrested after one week while Balraj continues to evade police arrest. Many times when investigation into a particular case needs immaculate skills, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising the best investigators of the Chandigarh Police is constituted. The SIT operates directly under the supervision of top brass of the police force. But in many cases in the past, SITs have failed to achieve the desired results.
Information procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Chandigarh Newsline reveals that at least 10 out of 12 SITs constituted in the last five years (2011-2016) have failed to serve any purpose and the cases fell flat.
Interestingly, crimes in which SITs were constituted included theft, cheating, forgery, extortion, mysterious disappearance of victims and gruesome murders.
A detailed reply from the Chandigarh Police procured under RTI says, “A total of 12 Special Investigation Teams (SITs) were constituted and in two of the cases, SITs managed to arrest the culprits while in rest of the cases, police closed the files after submitting the reports as either untraced or cancellation and quashing reports of the FIRs.”
Two cases in which SITs managed to make any headway included the murder of a Punjab Police commando, Jasvir Singh. He was killed by his wife and her lover. Another case is of a local trader, Surjeet Singh, who was robbed in Sector 26. While Jasvir was murdered on March 16, 2016, Surjeet was robbed of Rs 2 lakh on July 25, 2015.
In the murder case of Punjab Police commando Jasvir, his wife Sukhdeep Kaur, her NRI lover Harjit Singh along with three others have been chargesheeted in a local court by the SIT headed by Inspector Baldev Kumar. In the case of robbery of Surjeet, two robbers are facing trial.
The cases in which SITs failed to make any headway and preferred to file “untrace” reports include the cheating case in which an imposter had placed an order for purchasing 40 computer sets worth Rs 20 lakh for Chandigarh Police under the fake signature of the then Superintendent R P Garg posted at the Chandigarh Police headquarters, Sector 9.
The reply reveals that the investigation of one of the sensational murders in which an advocate-cum-national shooter, Sukhmanpreet Singh alias Sippy Sidhu, was gunned down in September 2015 has been transferred to the CBI. A SIT was constituted for solving the mystery behind the murder of Sippy Sidhu under the supervision of the then SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill. While Gill has relinquished charge and went back to his parent cadre Punjab, the SIT failed to achieve any headway in the Sippy Sidhu murder case. Even the CBI has not been able to make any substantial progress.
In the case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in which a 58-year-old businessman, Bharat Pal Singh of Sector 8, was killed in a mysterious road accident in October 2011, the police closed the investigation after submitting a cancellation report in the court. The RTI reply states that the police filed the cancellation report in September 2012.
Bharat died when he lost control of his newly purchased CRV Honda which rammed in a roadside tree on the dividing road of Sector 8/9 on September 26, 2011. His wife Manavjeet Kaur had lodged an FIR alleging someone had tampered with the car of her husband that led to the accident.
Police sources said all necessary inspections of the car including mechanical and forensic inspections suggested that the four-wheeler of Bharat was in perfect condition and there was no mechanical fault behind the road accident.
In the murder case registered after recovering the mutilated body of an unknown person from an agricultural land near Kaimbwala village, a SIT was constituted on October 17, 2013. The FIR was registered on the statement of Swaran Singh, a resident of Sector 11. After groping in the dark for almost one-and-a-half year, SIT submitted an untraced report in a local court on March 12, 2015.
Another SIT, which is being supervised by DSP (crime) Pawan Kumar, failed to make any headway in the case of mysterious disappearance of Aditya Aggarwal, a resident of Sector 12-A, Panchkula, in the last four years.
Aditya had reportedly gone missing from the dividing road between Sector 7 and Sector 19 on September 9, 2013. Anirudh Aggarwal, elder brother of the victim, lodged an FIR at Sector 19 police station alleging abduction of his brother by three persons, who were later verified by the police. Sources said nothing suspicious was found in the possession of three suspects, who were given a clean chit.
A SIT was constituted when unsatisfied with the pace of investigation of the Chandigarh Police, Anirudh approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking the transfer of probe from the Chandigarh Police to the CBI. After some hearings, the high court disposed of the plea instructing the Chandigarh SSP to monitor the investigation closely. The case is still under investigation.
A SIT was constituted for curbing the increasing cases of wheel thefts but in such cases too, a SIT failed to make any sense, states the RTI reply. Two such cases were reported in the jurisdiction of Sector 3 police station when Vaibhav Sharma and Ranbir Singh of Sector 8 lodged FIRs with the local police alleging wheels of their cars were stolen by unknown thieves.
Ranbir had lodged the FIR on August 2, 2013, and Vaibhav had lodged the FIR on August 7, 2013. In both the cases, the police filed untraced reports in the area courts.
In a forgery and cheating case which was lodged on the complaint of superintendent (procurement) at the Chandigarh Police headquarters, R P Garg, the SIT failed to find any clue to the imposter who had placed the order for 40 computer sets worth Rs 20 lakh with M/s Spectra Computers Pvt Ltd, Sector 22, under the fake signature of superintendent Garg. The FIR was registered on July 24, 2014. An untraced report was filed in a local court on June 16, 2016.
In a similar case, Surinder Singh Sodhi, a superintendent with Urban Running Department located at Chandigarh Housing Board building in Sector 9, lodged an FIR stating some important files related to urban planning schemes of Chandigarh had been taken by someone from the office in February 2011.An FIR against unknown employees of CHB was lodged for criminal breach of trust (Section 409 of IPC) on February 17, 2011. A SIT was constituted for probing the case and an untraced report was filed on May 21, 2014. Neither the accused were arrested nor the stolen files were recovered.
SSP Eish Singhal’s take
Before making any comment on any particular case, I will have to study the nature and investigation of the case. But if an untraced report has been filed in a case, it does not mean that the investigation of the case cannot be reopened. There are instances in which SITs managed to crack the cases and arrested the culprits. The murder of Punjab Police commando, Jasvir Singh, is one such case.