The Punjab & Haryana High Court on Friday (18th September) observed that almost in all cases under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 and the Punjab Excise Act, 1914 which come before the Court (regarding conducting of the raid by the Punjab Police on the basis of secret information), the offenders were alleged to have fled from the spot at the time of the raid.
The Bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi further observed said that "this coincidence in all such cases is very strange" and that it is "suggestive of either leakage of information regarding the raid to the offender by some police officer/official or manipulation of record by the police officers/officials conducting the raid who allow the offenders to escape or inefficiency of the raiding police officers/officials in suffering escape of the offenders despite their empowerment by law to use reasonable force for preventing such escape." (Emphasis supplied)
The Bench was of the view that in any of the above-referred eventuality, remedial measures are required to be taken for ensuring the efficient administration of criminal justice by the arrest of the offenders on the spot in case of such raids.
Further, in such cases, the Court remarked, the police officers/officials are also expected to use audio-video electronic means including still/video cameras which are readily available as part of the smartphones possessed even by the police officers/officials.
However, the Court observed that such audio-video electronic means "are not deliberately used for some ulterior motive/extraneous considerations."
The Court further directed the Director-General of Police, Punjab to look into the matter personally and issue appropriate instructions for taking of appropriate remedial measures for conducting of such raid "with requisite secrecy, co-ordination and communication with the concerned SHO/higher police officers to prevent the escape of offenders in such cases."
Background of the case
The petitioner before the Court had filed an Application Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for grant of anticipatory bail in case FIR No. 0144 dated 25.08.2020 registered under Section 379 of the IPC and Section 21 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 at Police Station Koom Kalan, District Police Commissionerate Ludhiana.
As per the prosecution's case, on 25.08.2020, police party headed by ASI Kamaljit Singh received secret information that Bitu Ram after doing illegal mining near the river bridge used to sell sand at a higher rate in the city and if a raid be conducted, the accused could be apprehended on the spot.
On the basis of the said information, the police party conducted the raid and one tractor trolley was seen coming from the side of village Mand Chota.
However, on seeing the police party, the driver of the tractor-trolley fled leaving behind the tractor-trolley filled with sand.
Court's decision in the present case
After hearing the matter, the High Court issued notice to Punjab and posted the matter for further hearing on October 27, 2020.
In the meanwhile, the petitioner was directed to join the investigation as and when called upon to do so.
In the event of his arrest, the Court directed, the petitioner shall be released on interim bail by the arresting officer/investigating officer on furnishing of bail bonds by him to the satisfaction of the arresting officer/investigating officer.
The petitioner has been directed to comply with the conditions enumerated under Section 438 (2) of the Cr.P.C. failing which he shall not be entitled to the protection of interim bail allowed to him.
Case Title: Bittu Ram v. State Of Punjab
Case No.: CRM-M-28493-2020
Quorum: Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi
Appearance: Advocate Ferry Sofat (for the Petitioner).
Click Here To Download Order