3 Top IPS Officers Indicted for Letting Accused in Custodial Rape, Extortion Case go Scot-free

CHANDIGARH:
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has indicted three top IPS officers for conducting a shoddy investigation without applying their minds in order to “delay and obstruct justice” to a victim of custodial rape and extortion, thereby helping an accused police officer, AIG Ashish Kapoor.

The PCA report has recommended a “reinvestigation of the case, preferably by registering a fresh FIR”.

Former DGP Sidharth Chattopadhyay stands indicted for not applying his mind to the report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) which gave a clean chit to AIG Ashish Kapoor, accused by Poonam Rajan of raping her and extorting Rs 1 crore.

The SIT report was presented to Chattopadhyay on December 23, 2021, and on the same day he consigned the report to the records without caring to consult the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), the PCA has stated.

Setting aside the findings of the SIT, Satish Chandra IAS (retd), Chairman of the PCA, has recommended reinvestigation of FIR number 151 dated May 5, 2018, police station Zirakpur against Poonam and members of her family.

Poonam Rajan Singh and three members of her family were “wrongly” convicted by a Dera Bassi court in this FIR registered at the behest of Ashish Kapoor, then posted as AIG, Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

The four-member SIT was headed by Sharad Satya Chauhan IPS, ADGP, and comprised Vibhu Raj, IPS, ADGP, Ramandeep Singh, PPS, DSP, and Bhagwant Singh Riar, Inspector.

On the directions of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, all the four indicted officers of SIT and DGP Chattopadhyay (now retired) have been called upon to explain their conduct within a period of two weeks. If they fail to reply it would mean that they did not want to say anything in their defence. The letters, calling for their explanation in the matter, were sent to the indicted officers on Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

The PCA, among other things, also relied on the confessional statements of Hem Raj Mittal of Motia Developers Group, Zirakpur, DSP (Cyber Crime) Samarpal Singh, and the all-revealing video recorded in Zirakpur police station showing Ashish Kapoor beating Poonam Rajan. It is here that Poonam’s mother, Prem Lata, was forced to sign the cheques amounting to Rs 1 crore which were later encashed by people linked to Ashish Kapoor.

Mittal later admitted before the Judicial Magistrate, Mohali, that he had tendered false evidence during the trial of Poonam Rajan, her mother Prem Lata, and brother Kuldip Singh at the behest of Ashish Kapoor.

DSP Samarpal also contradicted the contents of FIR number 151 of 2018 registered against Poonam and members of her family and the claims of innocence made by Ashish Kapoor at various levels. He recorded his confessional statement before Judicial Magistrate, Mohali, Sonali Singh.

Dwelling on the background of the matter, PCA Chairman Satish Chandra records that the victims appeared before Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, IG, Organised Crime Control Unit (OCCU) during their incarceration in Patiala Jail. OCCU DSP Jaskeerat Singh, on the direction of the IG, investigated the allegations.

Jaskeerat Singh recorded statements from 40 witnesses and collected documentary evidence within a period of three months, nominating Ashish Kapoor as an accused in FIR Number 3 of 2019, OCCU, Police station, Mohali. IG Kunwar Vijay Partap completed his report on February 7, 2021, and handed it over to SIT.

PCA has recommended that Jaskeerat Singh, now posted as SP in Jalandhar, be associated with the reinvestigation of the case.

Ashish Kapoor managed to get the case transferred from OCCU leading to the formation of an SIT. The SIT on December 23, 2021, submitted its report to the then-DGP Chattopadhyay. It gave Ashish Kapoor a clean chit without properly studying the available evidence.

Satish Chandra states in the report: “There are serious shortcomings in its (SIT’s) investigation…new evidence was collected at the back of the complainant (Poonam Rajan)…this kind of cherry-picking has completely prejudiced the investigation…it is no investigation…”

He also indicated that as the SIT did not take into consideration the evidence placed before it by OCCU and the complainant, the members of the team must also be aware that they are liable to be prosecuted under 166 (A) of the IPC.

PCA Chairman states that keeping in view the FIR registered by the Vigilance Bureau against Ashish Kapoor, the statements of Hem Raj Mittal and DSP Samarpal Singh, it is imperative to conduct a fresh investigation into the whole gamut of the Ashish Kapoor-Poonam Rajan affair. Permission of the court, if required, may be taken.

Poonam Rajan had come into contact with Ashish Kapoor when she lodged in Amritsar Jail where the latter was posted as the Superintendent. Both developed physical intimacy and even decided to get married after getting divorced from their respective spouses. Poonam had allegedly become pregnant in Jail. An abortion was somehow got done with the help of jail doctors. The love story later turned soar and took a nasty turn.

The Vigilance Bureau arrested Kapoor, who is now lodged in Patiala jail as an undertrial.

The accused AIG enjoyed a powerful position those days, as he was close to the then unofficial “master regulator” of the Vigilance Department, Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, an Advisor of the then Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

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