NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has directed the police commissioner to initiate disciplinary action against two police officials for falsely implicating a man in an extortion case, noting that they misused their powers.
Principal District and Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma came down heavily on the police while setting aside a 2019 order of a magisterial court convicting one Santosh Kumar for threatening to kill the owner of the company he worked for and demanding a ransom of 20 lakh from him in September 2008.
According to the prosecution, soon after Gulshan Lamba, the owner of the company, filed a complaint of extortion, Kumar went missing.
On being contacted, he disclosed that he had been kidnapped and demanded 20 lakh to be paid to a man named Daku Khatyal Singh to save his life.
Thereafter, a bag containing waste papers was arranged and the raiding party reached Budha Garden and kept the bag at a designated place.
Kumar then came through the bushes and lifted the bag and was apprehended, according to the police.
After a long trial, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate convicted him for extortion in 2019 and sentenced him to two years in prison, a decision he challenged before the sessions court.
Setting aside his conviction, Judge Sharma said the inevitable conclusion was that Kumar was apprehended and forced to write the alleged threatening letters on account of some kind of “unholy nexus” between Lamba and the police officials.
“Judgment dated October 2019 passed by the Trial Court is set aside. The appellant is acquitted of the charges under Section 387 (whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts or attempts to put any person in fear of death) of the IPC,” he ordered.
He also observed that the entire case of the prosecution appeared to be “a cock and bull story”.
The judge noted that there were neither departure entries from Kirti Nagar police station for the raid nor any superior officer was informed about it, and no public witnesses were joined to lay the trap. This shows the “stark case of gross unprofessionalism if not sheer incompetence”.
He said the two prosecution witnesses failed to disclose in their cross-examination as to at which gate of Budha Garden the trap was laid and Kumar apprehended from.
“This case is symptomatic of the manner in which sometimes the wide police powers are misused by disgruntled police officials and it is shocking that senior officers in the hierarchy fail to take cognisance of such facts and allow such disgruntled police officials to play with the life and liberty of poor people,” he added.
The judge noted that Kumar suffered the ignominy of being incarcerated for about a month, a humiliation that must have resulted in irreparable anguish to his family members, besides loss of his dignity and stigmatisation in society.
He said that this is a case fit for initiating disciplinary action against the assistant sub-inspector of police and the sub-inspector, who in collusion with the now-deceased investigation officer and the complainant falsely framed Kumar.
“A copy of this order be sent to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi for initiating appropriate disciplinary action against the erring police officials,” he ordered.
“The appellant was incarcerated in jail in the instant case for about a month. The appellant shall be at liberty to initiate appropriate criminal proceedings against the complainant and other culprits for malicious prosecution,” the judge said.