Supreme Court Relaunches Disciplinary Investigation Against Former Madhya Pradesh Police Officer Who Set Up Illegal ‘Gunda Squad’
Akhilesh Jha was appointed police superintendent in Alirajpur from June 2012 to June 2015 and during this period, disobeying the instructions of the Inspector General of Police of the Indore area to disband the “Gunda squad”, he built, supervised and operated the team.
The Supreme Court has relaunched a disciplinary investigation against a former Madhya Pradesh police officer who allegedly led a “Gunda squad” while he was appointed police superintendent of Alirajpur district, where a man died in custody during an interrogation.
The “Gunda Squad” consisted of a group of police officers tasked with controlling criminal activity in a particular area.
The highest court overturned the Madhya Pradesh High Court order which upheld the Central Administrative Court’s (CAT) decision to quash the indictment against former police superintendent Akhilesh Jha, who was promoted to the post of Indian Police Service in 2011.
Jha was assigned as the police superintendent in Alirajpur from June 2012 to June 2015 and during this period, despite the instructions issued by the Inspector General of Police of the Indore area to disband the “Gunda squad”, he built, supervised and operated the squad. . It was alleged that on June 1, 2014, individuals belonging to such a squad, acting under the supervision of Jha, arrested an accused, who was taken into custody after being called to the police station by members of the Gunda’s squad. The person, who was under questioning, died in custody on June 3, 2014, after which a judicial inquiry was conducted into the death in custody and a report was delivered on October 10, 2014, containing submissions against Jha on his role in the illegal constitution of the brigade. , which became the basis for a disciplinary investigation by the state government.
A bench of judges DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli said: the first defendant (Akhilesh Jha) while he was on duty, and therefore the disciplinary investigation may reach its logical conclusion ”. The disciplinary investigation should be concluded quickly, preferably by July 31, 2022, he said.
He said the statement of charges indicates that Jha operated a “Gunda squad” despite specific instructions from the Inspector General of Police of the Indore area to all police superintendents that no officer working in the area. the district will not constitute it and if such a squad is working, then it must be disbanded immediately.
He noted that the charges against Jha were that he had broken Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct of All Indian Services, 1968 by illegally operating “Gunda Squad” in Alirajpur District and committing indiscipline and disobedience. violation of the instructions of senior officers. The incident leading to the death in custody took place while the individual was at the Sorwa district police station on June 3, 2014, after Jha sent Subedar KP Singh Tomar, working as the head of the squad, to interview the deceased suspect Jhingla.
He noted the accusations that Tomar inflicted injuries on Jhingla during the interrogation which led to his death, and Tomar and 5 other police officers were suspended.
“On the basis of the elements that were entered in the file, it was impossible to conclude that the charge against the first defendant is vague or ambiguous,” the magistrate said.
“The indictment, accompanied by the statement of charges, contains a detailed elaboration of the allegations brought against the first defendant and does not leave the addressee in any measure of doubt or ambiguity as to the nature of the case. to which he is required to respond in the disciplinary investigation. The conclusion that the accusation is vague is clearly a mistake, ”he said.
Describing the reasoning adopted by the CAT as “erroneous,” the court said: “The Tribunal refused to quash the indictment by its original order dated July 28, 2016. However, by a subsequent order dated January 5, 2018, he proceeded to do exactly what he had refused to do by his previous order ”.
She added that the court had allegedly done so, on the grounds that prejudice had been caused to Jha by the denial of an opportunity for deputation or promotion due to the pending proceedings.
The tribunal, in its order dated September 6, said the tribunal would have been justified in ordering the investigation to be concluded expeditiously, but instead quashed the investigation in its entirety. “This, in our opinion, was clearly unacceptable. Any delay in the conduct of a disciplinary investigation does not, ipso facto, taint the investigation. Whether prejudice is caused to the officer under investigation must be determined on the basis of the circumstances of each case. The harm must be shown to have been caused and cannot be a matter of guesswork, ”said the judiciary.
She added that apart from the fact that Jha was not in a position to proceed to the deputation or to seek promotion, there was nothing to suggest that her right to defend herself was infringed by a two-year delay in concluding the declaration. ‘investigation.
“The High Court, therefore, in our view, clearly failed to properly exercise the jurisdiction conferred upon it by merely upholding the judgment of the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s judgment suffered from fundamental errors which go to the root of the case and which were ignored by both the Tribunal and the High Court, ”he said.