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Sacked: cop with supernatural shooter theory

New Delhi, Sept. 2: A sacked CRPF constable who claimed he was shot by “supernatural” powers and had no idea who took his rifle or how he was injured in the chest while on election duty has failed to get back his job.

Raghuvir Singh’s explanation didn’t wash with Delhi High Court, which said he couldn’t prove beyond doubt that he didn’t try to commit suicide.

A two-judge bench said in the “absence of any credible explanation given by the petitioner and the attempt to cover up the incident by feigning ignorance, requires an inference to be drawn against the petitioner”.

In its judgment last week, the court said it concurred with the findings of the disciplinary authority, which terminated the services of the constable on January 31, 1998.

Attempt to commit suicide by members of security forces doesn’t mean automatic sacking, but depends on the disciplinary committee that looks into the matter.

Under the Indian Penal Code, anyone found guilty of attempted suicide can be jailed for up to a year. For a government employee, conviction automatically leads to dismissal.

Singh had been on election duty at Assam’s Gorisagar police station in 1997, when he claimed “as if somebody was exerting pressure” on his body.

“I was performing duty at the back gate, around 19.40 hours I was overcome by some mental pressure and felt as if somebody was exerting pressure upon my body. It was in this state that I cried out for help,” Singh, who received two gunshot wounds to his chest from his service rifle, told the court.

“I had no knowledge … whether the gun was fired or not, or who took my rifle, and who took me to the hospital for treatment. I never attempted to commit suicide. I was overcome by a mental pressure, and what happened thereafter was beyond my comprehension.”

The court didn’t buy the supernatural theory, saying the onus was on Singh to prove how he was shot if he didn’t attempt to kill himself.

The bench said the petitioner “has not disputed” that he received two gunshot wounds from his service weapon and, “as noted by us, during preliminary inquiry stated as if some supernatural force had overpowered him”.

But during investigations carried out by the disciplinary panel, the bench added, Singh “simply stated that he does not know as to how he suffered the gunshot wounds from his service weapon”.

“It is apparent that since the petitioner had suffered two gunshot wounds from his service weapon, and he was alone at the time when he received the gunshot wounds, it is he alone who knows what happened and it was for him to state the correct facts as to what happened when he fired at himself. If somebody else was the one who had shot at the petitioner, the petitioner had to state as to how the person concerned accessed the service weapon issued to the petitioner and fired at the petitioner,” the court said on August 31.

The bench also said Singh was feigning innocence to save his job and claim compassionate allowance.

The court also went into the conditions that could drive a person to suicide. “One reason (for suicide) may be the result of the immediacy of a present sense of hopelessness and loss of future hope… the future which presents itself as something black, infinite and unbearable… in the depths of a troubled mind, death becomes an escape…. Life seems to be the problem and Death seems like freedom from the cage.”

Although the court said the petitioner may have “found himself in such a situation”, it stuck to legal provisions as it upheld Singh’s dismissal.

THE CASE OF RAGHUVIR SINGH

1997: CRPF constable claims he was shot by “supernatural” powers while on duty

1998: CRPF sacks Singh for attempt to suicide

Aug. 31, 2012: Delhi High Court upholds dismissal, says onus on Singh
to prove he didn’t try to commit suicide

What the law says

In India, attempted suicide is an offence punishable under IPC Section 309. It says: “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.”