The Himachal Pradesh High court today dismissed a petition filed by M/s Gunal Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd. Bhunter Kullu, and imposed cost of Rs. 50,000/- for grossly misusing the order passed by the High Court. The Court also ordered to place the Investigation Officer under suspension and to initiate a regular inquiry against him.
The order passed by division bench of justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and justice Virender Singh on a petition filed by M/s Gunal Hydro Power Pvt. Ltd. wherein it was averred that on 22.3.2022 few villagers of villages Raisan and Benchi came to the construction site and started giving beatings to the labourers and demolished the labour sheds, so raised by them. The matter was reported to the Police Station, Patlikuhal by the petitioner-Company and an FIR No. 37/2022 dated 18.4.2022, was registered.
The petitioner-Company approached the High Court with prayer to direct State authorities to restrain one Tapan Mahant and villagers of Gram Panchayat Benchi from carrying out illegal activities in the form of arson, abuses, violence, unauthorized restraint, stoppage of work and preventing workers of the company from performing their duties within 500 meters of work site, office and residential area of the petitioner- Company.
Taking into consideration the version of the petitioner- Company to be true, the Court on 10.05.2022, passed the order to restrain the above named respondents from entering within the radius of 500 meter of the construction site.
In the meantime another FIR was registered in the matter on 22.08.2022, on the basis of a complaint filed by the Manager of petitioner-Company on the allegations that the villagers entered the Project Site on 19.08.2022.
The Bench Comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh, however, during the course of hearing found that court orders were being misused by the petitioner as also by the police authorities. The General Manager of the petitioner-Company and Investigating Officer, present in the Court failed to substantiate the allegations that any untoward incident did take place on 19.8.2022, as was otherwise alleged by the petitioner, on the basis of which FIR No. 94 of 2022 came to be registered. The Court further observed that nothing untoward ever happened on 19.8.2022, as per the status report filed by the SHO Patlikuhal and found the conduct of the petitioner and the Investigating Officer, reprehensible and condemnable.
It is in this background, that the Court dismissed the instant petition with cost Note of Rs. 50,000/- and found the conduct of Investigating Officer, unbecoming of a police official and therefore directed the Superintendent of Police, Kullu, to place him under suspension and hold a regular inquiry against him for dereliction of duties and for misusing the orders of the Court. The inquiry has been ordered to be held by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and the same has been ordered to be completed promptly within a period of two months.
However, the Court has made it clear that the aforesaid views expressed against thee Investigating Officer are only tentative and cannot be held to cast any aspersion or strive. The Investigating Officer, if found guilty of misbehavior, is a matter to be proved in the inquiry after affording due opportunity to him.
Compliance report in this regard has been called for 23.11.2022.
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