Observing that if “the protector becomes the predator, civilised society will cease to exist”, a special CBI court here has sentenced three policemen to three years' rigorous imprisonment for entering into a criminal conspiracy to demand illegal gratification in abuse of their official position from a man from whom they tried to extort Rs.7,500 twelve years ago.

Special Judge Padam Kant Saxena convicted Ramesh Kumar, Nagender Nath Tiwari, and Haripal Balu, who were posted as Sub-Inspector, Head Constable, and Constable, respectively at the Delhi Police Crime Branch in R. K. Puram at the time they were caught by a CBI team accepting the bribe. “Policemen who commit criminal acts deserve harsher punishment than other persons who commit such acts, because it is the duty of the policemen to protect the people and not break the law themselves. If the protector becomes the predator, civilised society will cease to exist,” said the Judge.

The three were convicted for offences punishable under Section 120B IPC read with Sections 120 B Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 and 13(1) (d) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act for “illegal demand of Rs.7,500” from the complainant by abusing their official position and forced the complainant to give them Rs.5,000.In 1999, Uttam Nagar resident Jarnail Singh complained to the anti-corruption branch of the CBI that Haripal Balu who had helped him send his brother-in-law to Dubai in June 1999 through a travel agency was extorting money from him.

Balu, the driver of the ACP of Crime Branch, R. K. Puram, had agreed on a sum of Rs.35,000 to be paid to him before the complainant's brother-in-law left for Dubai. However, Balu allegedly fleeced Rs.50,000 from Jarnail Singh and then further sought Rs.7,500 from the complainant, also roping in the other accused for securing the amount. Singh and his family were also threatened with false implication in criminal cases if he failed to pay.

Following his complaint to the CBI, a trap was laid for the three men and the complainant and his son were sent in with an independent witness with Rs.5,000 in currency notes coated with phenolphthalein powder. When Balu's hand was washed with sodium carbonate solution, the hand turned pink.

The sentence has been suspended till November 28 to allow the convicts, who have also been released on bail, to appeal to the Delhi High Court.