After holding that seven-year rigorous imprisonment awarded to four Punjab police cops by a lower court in the Khalra murder case was inadequate, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today enhanced their sentence to rigorous imprisonment for life.
Pronouncing the orders in an open court, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Mr Justice A.N. Jindal, held that the intent of sub-inspectors Satnam Singh, Surinder Pal Singh and Jasbir Singh along with head constable Prithipal Singh was clear.Human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra was “abducted so that his life could be extinguished” and the case against the four clearly fell within the ambits of Section 364 of the IPC (abduction).
The Judges had earlier held that Khalra was picked up from his house “at the instance of SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu by DSP Jaspal Singh, Satnam Singh, Surinder Pal Singh, Jasbir Singh and Prithipal Singh. He was tortured at the Jhabal police station and shot dead there. Finally, his body was disposed by them near the Harike bridge”.
Taking up the appeals and revision petitions filed in the matter, the high court had also upheld the conviction and sentence awarded in the matter to DSP Jaspal Singh, while acquitting ASI Amarjit Singh.
While the DSP was sentenced to life imprisonment by the court of Patiala’s additional sessions judge under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC, the other four were sentenced to seven-year imprisonment.
The Bench had further held that the motive behind the commission of offence was clear from the statement of witnesses.
Jaswant Singh Khalra, a bank employee in Amritsar, had embarked on a mission to look into the deaths of innocents while searching for some missing colleagues.
Khalra went missing on September 6, 1995. He was last seen washing his car in front of his house in Amritsar.
Besides the six sentenced by the lower court, the challan included the names of Tarn Taran SSP Ajit Singh Sandhu and DSP Ashok Kumar. Sandhu “committed suicide” by jumping in front of a train in May 1998, while Ashok Kumar died due to illness.