Like no one killed Jessica, did no one burn Panchkula?

In her judgment, Judge Tagore said that the accused deserved the benefit of doubt as “the prosecution led no good and reliable evidence to prove its case”.

The Hush Post: 36 people were killed, more than 250 injured and property worth crores were gutted in the fire during the Panchkula violence of August 2017. But, the Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the Haryana Police investigating the matter has failed to prove that Panchkula was burnt down on that fateful day of August 25, at least in the case of FIR No. 362. A Panchkula court on Monday let go scot-free the six persons accused of arson and rioting as the SIT failed to prove the allegations in the court.

What is even more embarrassing for the Haryana Police is that the Sessions Judge Ritu Tagore also pulled it up for the shoddy investigation.

In her judgment, Judge Tagore said that the accused deserved the benefit of doubt as “the prosecution led no good and reliable evidence to prove its case”. The judgment mentions that the police even failed to back the fact that the accused were followers of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan and were present in Panchkula on August 25.

The judge rapped the police for relying on self-incriminating statements of the accused recorded in police custody, saying that “it is not admissible evidence, except in the manner recognised in law”.

She also observed that the investigating officer (IO) had adopted a casual approach by completely ignoring the importance of joining the witness from the public and added that “the police was required to pump in more manpower and resources to cope up with the rush or to have adopted manual mode of recording FIR”.

Stating that the explanation given by the prosecution for the delay in lodging the FIR was not reliable, she said that “it thus probalise (sic) the defence version that to solve the incident, [police] falsely roped them in present case.”

Gyani Ram, Ravi Kumar, Hoshiyar Singh, Sanga Singh, Tarsem and Ram Kishan were booked in FIR No. 362 registered by the Panchkula police under Sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 436(Mischief by fire or explosive substance) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Panchkula Police have booked around 1,100 Dera followers in around 200 cases of rioting and arson during the Panchkula violence which had erupted after Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted in two rape cases by a CBI court last year.

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