Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Bench of Arun Monga, J., expressed disbelief on how an all men SIT could be deployed to investigate into sensitive offences like rape contrary to legal provisions. The Bench constituted another SIT to be headed by a female officer. The expressed,
“The allegations and factual averments contained in the petition are so grisly and frightful, one can only hope, that the same are fictitious.”
On the argument of the defendant that a honey trap was laid by the petitioner, which later boomeranged on her, the Bench said, if that be not so, then it was a case which reflected the sordid state of affairs in Punjab Police. The Bench remarked,
“The very protectors/enforcers of law and order have turned into predators, making a young 38 years old widow mother victim of their lust.”
To maintain and respect the privacy of the petitioner the Court refrained to give the narrative of the incident. The facts of the petitioner was that when she declined to succumb to the sexual favor sought from her by the police officials her 19-20 year old son was picked up by CIA police officials in broad day light while he was suffering/convalescing from Covid-19 infection at his residence. The petitioner contended that an FIR, allegedly a fake one, was registered against her son under NDPS Act by planting contraband on him so as to arm twist the petitioner. Eventually, under duress to get her son released, she yielded to the sexual demands of the CIA staff. To substantiate her allegations, petitioner had also appended a pen drive which contains the recorded conversations between her and respondent 5 as well as certain live video clippings in support of her rape allegations, a heinous crime otherwise, but was being termed as honey trap by the defense.
Opining that truth will only unfold in time once it is properly investigated; the Bench replaced an all men SIT with another SIT with female members and head. The Bench said,
“It is rather intriguing, given the nature of sensitive investigation, that no lady police official has been involved, which is even otherwise the requirement of law in cases of this kind. To say the least, it is highly deplorable to see the insensitiveness with which the district police officials have acted, in constituting the SIT having all male members.”
Hence, constituting an all women SIT the Bench directed that the investigation shall also be carried out by the lady IO/police officer in both the cases registered under Section 376 IPC and registered under Section 18(b) of the NDPS Act, 1985. Additionally, the Bench asked the State what steps had been taken under the “Witness Protection Scheme, 2018” as per judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in Mahender Chawla v. Union of India, (2019) 14 SCC 615, as the petitioner was fearful that the police officials who were involved in the case, may try to bodily harm her and tamper with the evidence and/or destroy the same. Lastly, the Bench sought reply from the State as to the steps taken so far to proceed against the accused, in criminal proceedings arising out of both the FIRs, as well as departmental action taken, if any.
[Veerpal Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 1033, decided on 25-05-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together
Appearance before the Court by:
For the Petitioner: Adv. Gurpreet Singh Bhasin
For the State of Punjab: DAG Sandeep Singh Deol