This paper presents an experimental study on turbulent flow characteristics in submerged plane wall jets subjected to injection (upward seepage) and suction (downward seepage) from the wall. The vertical distributions of time-averaged velocity components, turbulence intensity components and Reynolds shear stress at different horizontal distances are presented. The horizontal distributions of wall shear stress determined from the Reynolds shear stress profiles are also furnished. The flow field exhibits a decay of the jet velocity over a horizontal distance. The wall shear stress and the rate of decay of the jet velocity increase in the presence of injection and decrease with suction. Based on the two-dimensional Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes equations of a steady turbulent flow, the velocity and Reynolds shear stress distributions in the fully developed zone subjected to no seepage, injection and suction are theoretically computed. The response of the turbulent flow characteristics to injection and suction is analysed from the point of view of similarity characteristics, growth of the length scale and decay of the velocity and turbulence characteristics scales. The significant observation is that the velocity, Reynolds shear stress and turbulence intensities in the fully developed zone are reasonably similar under both injection and suction on applying the appropriate scaling laws. An analysis of the third-order moments of velocity fluctuations reveals that the inner layer of the jet is associated with the arrival of low-speed fluid streaks causing an effect of retardation. On the other hand, the upper layer of the jet is associated with the arrival of high-speed fluid streaks causing an effect of acceleration. Injection influences the near-wall distributions of the third-order moments by increasing the upward turbulent advection of the streamwise Reynolds normal stress. In contrast, suction influences the near-wall distributions of the third-order moments by increasing the downward turbulent advection of the streamwise Reynolds normal stress. Also, injection and suction change the vertical turbulent flux of the vertical Reynolds normal stress in a similar way. The streamwise turbulent energy flux travels towards the jet origin within the jet layer, while it travels away from the origin within the inner layer of the circulatory flow. The turbulent energy budget suggests that the turbulent and pressure energy diffusions oppose each other, and the turbulent dissipation lags the turbulent production. The quadrant analysis of velocity fluctuations reveals that the inward and outward interactions are the primary contributions to the Reynolds shear stress production in the inner and outer layers of the jet, respectively. However, injection induces feeble ejections in the vicinity of the wall.