Narcotics huge problem in Punjab, says SC; denies protection to dismissed cop
The dismissed police officer claimed that he was being framed by those police officers at the top who were inimical to him
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that Punjab faces a huge problem of narcotics with police officers found “complicit” in investigating drug-related offences as it dismissed a petition filed by a dismissed senior cop in the state seeking anticipatory bail in a case where he is accused of shielding his subordinate accused of having links with drug suppliers.
Dismissing a petition filed by former additional inspector general (AIG) Raj Jit Singh Hundal, a bench of justices BR Gavai and PK Mishra said, “Punjab is facing such a huge problem of narcotics. We are dismissing this petition.”
Hundal had approached the court against an order of the Punjab and Haryana high court in August refusing to grant him anticipatory bail. Hundal claimed that with the regime change in Punjab, after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took over the reins in the state, he was being framed by those police officers at the top who were inimical to him.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Hundal and referred to a letter issued by the Punjab chief minister on April 17 this year nominating him as an accused in a 2017 case being tried against a police inspector Indrajeet Singh, who was found to be “complicit” in investigating offences under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. He was accused of aiding acquittal of drug suppliers by compromising with the probe.
The bench said, “There is a huge problem with complicity of police officers in Punjab in relation to drug offences.”
The state represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi informed the court that the state acted on three reports prepared by a special investigation team constituted by the high court which found evidence against Hundal. In the reports, it was pointed out that Hundal had sought posting of Indrajeet Singh at Tarn Taran district while he was the district senior superintendent of police (SSP).
Sibal said, “There is no act attributed to me as far as drugs are concerned. In 2019, a vigilance department probe gave me the clean chit. Just because I requested for somebody’s posting, how do I become guilty of an offence.”
The court told Sibal, “The reports say you are involved. This is a matter of trial. We are dealing with anticipatory bail. We cannot get into the merits of the case at this stage.” The bench, at the same time, clarified in its order, “The observations made by the high court will not come in the way of the petitioner seeking remedies according to law.”
Last week, the court had echoed similar sentiments when it said, “There is no other state where police officers are involved in NDPS cases. In no other state, do we find this.”
On October 6, the court had granted anticipatory bail to Hundal in one of the three cases registered against him, the other two being for disproportionate assets under Prevention of Corruption Act and a separate offence under NDPS Act, which too are pending probe. By the same order, top court had directed Hundal to cooperate with the probe and report daily to the investigating officer. However, the state alleged breach of this order after Hundal appeared just once despite multiple notices sent to him.