September 30, 2021 12:03:06 am
Just five days before his appointment as Punjab’s top lawyer, advocate A P S Deol was appearing before Punjab and Haryana High Court on behalf of former DGP Sumedh Saini in the politically sensitive case linked to 2015 Kotakpura police firing.
It was during this hearing on September 23 that court issued notices to the state in relation with petitions seeking quashing of FIRs against Saini and suspended IG Paramraj Umranangal in the 2015 police firing case.
Days later on September 25, Deol’s name was on top of the list of those in race to become new Punjab Advocate General in place of Atul Nanda.
Congress leaders were seeking Nanda’s ouster after he was accused by former investigating officer in the case, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, of mishandling the prosecution’s case in a way that ended up benefiting the accused. But Doel’s appointment and his link to the defence bay in the case has now opened up the government of new CM Charanjit Singh Channi to similar criticism.
A Congress MLA said: “Even if there is no conspiracy to save the Badals and Saini in police firing case by appointing Deol as AG, what is use of appointing someone as top lawyer of state if you can’t use his services and professional excellence in high profile and politically sensitive case? It means you are already down in legal battle against Saini and Umranangal.”
After stepping down as PPCC chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu, too expressed his resentment over appointment of A P S Deol as Punjab AG due to his association with Saini and Umranangal.
A P S Deol and his son, Himmat Singh Deol, have represented both Saini, Umranangal and some other accused in 2015 police firing cases in different courts over the period of last three years.
In the past, Deol has also extended legal services to Saini in corruption, land fraud and human rights violation cases.
While Talking to The Indian Express, A P S Deol said that he was no longer Saini’s lawyer.
“I am no more the lawyer for Sumedh Saini. It would be better if you don’t ask me about his case. I can neither represent Saini nor appear on the behalf of Punjab government against Saini. So, don’t ask me,” said A P S Deol over phone and disconnected call to avoid any further questions.
The case dates back to October 25, 2015 when two Sikh protesters were killed and many others injured in police firing at Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan during a dharna against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. Two separate FIRs were filed related to Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan incidents.
Now, the next date of hearing in the case is on October 10. On behalf of Punjab government, the notice issued on September 23 has been accepted by Additional Advocate General, Punjab, H S Grewal.
Kotakpura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases are highly sensitive politically as they had first cost SAD dearly during the 2017 polls, and later cornered former CM Amarinder Singh giving ammunition to his opponents who accused him of failing to bring the guilty to book.
Deol’s link to firing case accused
# In Sept last year, secured blanket bail from HC for ex-DGP Sumedh Saini
# In 2019, appeared in HC seeking blanket bail for Umranangal
# Appeared in HC on behalf of Saini after his arrest in a land fraud case in August
# Appeared in HC for Saini and Umranangal seeking bail for both in Behbal Kalan case in March
# Represented Saini in the Mohali kidnapping case before a local court seeking anticipatory bail
# Appeared in a local court for Saini seeking anticipatory bail in a graft case
# Represented Saini, Umranangal in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases at multiple occasions
# Has represented Behbal Kalan case accused Pankaj Bansal and one Baljit Singh in Kotakpura firing case
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