Chandigarh: Deputy Superintendent of Police (retd) Jaswant Singh’s confessional statement in the Mohali trial court seems to reveal the contents of the much talked about sealed drug reports that are lying with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The statement of the DSP who turned approver in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Prevention) Act (NDPS Act) case registered against inspector (substantial rank head constable) Inderjit Singh on June 12, 2017, exposes the police-smuggler nexus in the illicit drug trafficking in Punjab.
The statement is bound to have direct bearing on the three drug reports submitted by the SIT that were opened and forwarded to the Punjab government for action recently.
A strong effort is afoot in the court of Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ), Mohali, Sandeep Singla, to thwart the opening of the confessional statement of Jaswant Singh recorded before a judicial magistrate under section 164 of CrPc. Advocate Terminder Singh, counsel for accused inspector Inderjit Singh, who is in jail and advocate Amarjit Singh Sukhija, representing accused ASI Ajaib Singh who is out on bail, moved an application in May 2022. They prayed that the approver’s statement may not be opened.
Before the ASJ gives his decision on the issue on the next date of hearing, DSP Jaswant Singh spoke exclusively to indianarrative.com to disclose how the then SSP Tarn Taran, Rajjit Singh Hundal (now AIG NRI cell) and the main accused inspector were allegedly linked inextricably together in the illicit drug racket.
He explained that ad hoc inspector Inderjit Singh with substantial rank of a ‘hawaldar’ (head constable) was not eligible to register an FIR or investigate a case under the NDPS Act. As per the Act an officer not below the rank of a regular Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) could register or investigate a drug case. But the SSP Rajjit Singh posted his friend Inderjit as SHO, CIA police station, Tarn Taran and allowed him to register FIRs under the NDPS Act.
“I pointed out to the SSP that this was illegal and the prosecution will lose cases in courts as Inderjit was not even a regular ASI but Rajjit admonished me and told me to ‘mind your business,” he recalled.
The DSP said three drug smuggling cases registered at the Sarhali police station under the Tarn Taran police district fell flat in a trial court with the judges noting that the IO (investigating officer i.e. Inderjit Singh) was not competent to register an FIR or to investigate a drug case under the NDPS Act. The accused smugglers from whom large quantities (commercial quantities) of heroin (‘Chitta’) were recovered got acquitted by courts.
“On the directions of the SSP, I used to sign documents of the drug seizures in the capacity of a gazetted officer, as required under the NDPS Act. This landed me in trouble as I was also made a co-accused in the FIR number 1 of 2017, registered at the Special Task Force (STF) police station, Mohali,” he laments.
ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, after taking over as Punjab’s STF chief, decided to review the performance of police and success rate of NDPS cases in courts. He found that Tarn Taran SSP Rajjit Singh Hundal was getting the drug cases investigated by a head constable Inderjit in violation of the NDPS Act. Inderjit was arrested. As much as 4 kgs of ‘chitta’, 3 kgs of smack, 2 AK 47 rifles, a revolver, a pistol and large quantities of live cartridges were recovered from his residence.
STF sources disclose that during interrogation, accused Inderjit alleged that SSP Rajjit Singh Hundal was his partner in crime. It came out that he used to manipulate the ‘challan’ (chargesheet) before submitting it in the trial court after striking a deal with the arrested smugglers. The actual evidence used to be tampered. Instead of ‘chitta’ some other intoxicant used to be sent for forensic lab testing and registration numbers of smugglers’ vehicles used to be wrongly mentioned to weaken the case and help the accused.
Sources also revealed that when inspector Inderjit Singh arrested a smuggler with large quantities of heroin, he would show much less quantity of recovered drugs. The misappropriated quantity of drugs would then be sold-off in the open market through a team of hired peddlers spread throughout Punjab.
Replying to a question, DSP Jaswant Singh said that he met senior officers to explain his conduct and offered to turn approver to help the prosecution. Under the NDPS Act, the state government is empowered and, not the court, to accept and make an accused an approver (‘sarkari gawah’).
ASJ Sandeep Singla, on March 21, 2023 heard the arguments of the counsel for accused opposing opening of DSP Jaswant Singh’s sealed confessional statement and is expected to issue an order on the next date.