A district court of Thursday convicted 10 people in connection with the Kharar forensic science laboratory (FSL) scam wherein samples of seized drugs were tampered with for preparing negative reports to support drug peddlers during court cases.
Besides the laboratory in-charge and employees, the convicts include Punjab Police head constables, who were all held guilty under Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The sentence will be pronounced on March 21.
Apart from the lab’s in-charge and assistant chemical examiner Dr Rajwinderpal Singh, the court of additional and sessions judge Monika Goyal convicted laboratory analyst Shingara Ram, lab employees Gurjant Singh, Lekh Raj, Class-4 employees Jagdeep Singh and Darshan Singh, computer operator Parveen Arora, and head constables Hardev Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Ashwini Kumar.
Six people, including Class-4 four lab employees Charanjeet Singh, Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Vinay Kumar, Sandeep and Karu Lal, and advocate Harish Ahuja, were acquitted for want of evidence. Another accused Manjit Singh died during the course of trial.
Dr Rajwinderpal was held guilty of preparing fake reports of seized contraband in connivance with his junior colleagues. The contraband is chemically examined to be furnished as evidence in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act cases.
How the scam came to light
The Shambu police station in Patiala district on July 11, 2012, booked Vinay Kumar and Karu Lal, both natives of Madhya Pradesh, under the NDPS Act, after recovering 20kg of opium and 100 gram of heroin from them.
The accused had hired advocate Harish Ahuja to represent them in court. Samples of the drugs seized were sent to the Kharar FSL, where its in-charge Dr Rajwinderpal was good friends with Harish.
According to police, Harish assured the accused of getting a negative report from the Kharar FSL in exchange of Rs 6 lakh, of which Rs 2.5 lakh were paid to Dr Rajwinderpal to tamper with the sample report.
In a similar case unearthed in Fazilka, Ferozepur, reported in FIR number 52/12, some money was transferred in the account of laboratory’s Class-4 employees Jagdeep and Darshan to change the sample report from positive to negative.
Meanwhile, Jagdeep and Darshan were transferred to Punjab Health Systems Corporation, and Shingara Ram helped the accused in their place.
In another FIR registered at Division Number 2 police station in Jalandhar, money was given to Darshan and Shinghara to forge the drug reports.
Following the detection of these cases, the Punjab and Haryana high court court ordered revaluation, and the samples were sent to Central CFSL in Chandigarh, where all reports turned out to be positive.
Besides, the high court entrusted the Vigilance Bureau (VB) with the task of probing the functioning of the Kharar FSL.
Investigation led the VB to detect more than 200 such negative reports, soon zeroing in on Dr Rajwinderpal.
The probe also revealed that the accused lab employees allegedly used to tamper with the drug reports with the help of junior assistant Rajesh Mishra, while Class-4 employees Darshan and Jagdeep negotiated with the cops on the money to be charged.
Head constables Hardev Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Ashwini Kumar were found to have deposited the money in computer operator Parveen Arora’s bank account in Jalandhar on different dates.