Haryana government Tuesday reversed its stand in the High Court on its officers being in touch with Dera Sacha Sauda followers in the run up to the August 25 last year’s court verdict in a rape case against the Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
The court after perusing a sealed cover report and an affidavit filed by DCP Panchkula Manbir Singh on February 21 had noted that three officers — SDM Panchkula Pankaj Setia, SP Surinder Bhoria and DSP Chander Pal — were in active contact with Dera follower Jasbir Singh and others, who are now accused in the Panchkula violence case. Additional Secretary of Home Department last week had told the High Court in an affidavit that there was no authorisation from the government for such conversation.
However on Tuesday, Additional Advocate General (AAG) Pawan Girdhar informed the single bench of Justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu that prior to the verdict on August 25 there was a meeting authorised by the District Magistrate in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines on anticipated agitations, and the meeting also had the representatives of the Dera’s Core Committee. The AAG made the submission during bail plea hearing of Jasbir Singh, who is named in the same Panchkula violence FIR as wanted Dera functionary Aditya Insaan.
Also, Justice Sindhu in the order on March 09 had noted: “Mr Pankaj Setia, SDM had even put the judicial officer in peril by sending minute details on 25.8.2017”. This was observed while referring to the transcripts of a conversation between the accused and the SDM. The court was on Tuesday informed by the state government that there was a typographical error that led to the mention of ADJ (Additional District Judge) in the transcripts, and the reference to the judicial officer was a “lapse” that crept into the transcripts.
“It is a lapse on our part,” said AAG Girdhar. He added that he had looked into all the transcripts and the call recordings can also be presented before the bench in the chambers. Justice Sindhu said that he has gone through the transcripts word by word and observed that, “There are so many things which are very serious. Everything will be examined”.
As the government counsel sought more time to produce all the record before the court, the petitioner’s lawyer said, “The state is backing out of its own documents.”
Earlier, the single bench during the hearing of the bail plea had observed, “Undoubtedly, the prime function of the police is to maintain law and order, but, this court fails to understand as to how in such a volatile situation, all the above three officers were in direct conversation with the petitioner and other co-accused.”