Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Friday rejected as “a case of either ignorance or blatant mischief, and totally baseless”, the allegations by party leader Partap Singh Bajwa that the Advocate General’s office “had misled the state government and the Assembly” on the sensitive and critical issue of withdrawal of the Bargari sacrilege cases from the CBI.
It all began Thursday when Bajwa, a Rajya Sabha MP, questioned the sincerity and the motive of the state’s Advocate General in handling the cases of sacrilege that took place in Faridkot in 2015. Bajwa alleged that AG misled the government over CBI submitting its closure report in a Mohali court earlier last month.
Amarinder dubbed Bajwa’s statement as “a case of either ignorance or blatant mischief, and totally baseless”. The CM pointed out that the decision to withdraw the cases from CBI was taken by the Punjab assembly, on merit and in line with the recommendations of the AG office. He, however, pointed out that the AG’s recommendation or report was at no stage presented before the House, which took an independent decision, on merit, by consensus.
“The MP had evidently not bothered to even study the judgment of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, which had upheld the legality of the state’s decision to withdraw the cases from the CBI,” said Amarinder.
The High Court, Amarinder said, had categorically upheld the legality of the action of the state in withdrawing the investigation from the CBI and in fact had reposed faith in the special investigation team (SIT). “CBI had not challenged this judgment. Hence, no question arises now as regards the legality of the action,” said the CM, flaying Bajwa’s attempt to “create mischief with his own misleading statement, clearly designed to mislead the people”.
Bajwa hit back. “It is high time Captain Amarinder Singh stopped hoodwinking the people of Punjab on the withdrawal of the Bargari sacrilege cases from CBI”.
“As the Polish-American poet Czeslaw Milosz once said – In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot. It seems this word of truth from me, seems to have aroused you and our government from its deep slumber,” Bajwa said in a statement.
He said he has done nothing more than reminding Amarinder of the promises “made by our party to the people of Punjab which we have not fulfilled till date”. “It is not my ignorance but your intentional misleading of the people of the state, which I have very strongly objected to,” he added.
Referring to the HC judgment, Bajwa asked why the government kept sleeping over it and did not even bother to check as to whether the CBI had handed over the case back to Punjab or was still continuing with the investigation.
“Obviously, this was a major lapse on the part of the government, which is headed by you as chief minister. I do not think you can shift the burden of this responsibility from your shoulders to that of any officer working under you. It needs to be pointed out that there is a gap of more than a six months between the decision of the case being referred to by you and filing of the closure report by CBI. This is a clear reflection on the part of the government and its functionaries as to how casually this case has been treated,” said Bajwa.
“Not only this, I would further like to know that if the CBI had not handed over the documents of the case to the Punjab government and the Punjab government was well aware of this fact, then why was no contempt petition filed before the High Court against the CBI?” Bajwa asked.
The Rajya Sabha MP said he would “further like to question as to what was the investigation being carried out under your government if the connected cases sought to be withdrawn from CBI had not been taken back and long statements were being issued stating that a very fair investigation was being carried out?”
Bajwa said that Amarinder’s government kept making tall claims of a fair investigation in the sacrilege cases and got to know that the CBI was still investigating the cases only when the central agency filed the closure report.
“Your bundle of lies stand exposed…your government did not proceed to file any petition, much less a contempt petition, before the high court seeking compliance of the January 25, 2018 judgment, which has been referred to by you,” the senior Congress leader said, adding that “when state of Punjab tried to contest the closure report filed by CBI, the Ld. Special Court even refused to grant it the status of a complainant”.
Bajwa then went on to list out a set of questions asking Amarinder “to publicly state the details, which would clearly establish the falsehood of your claims “.
The Rajya Sabha MP has asked Amarinder to give details of
* the date on which CBI stopped the investigation;
* the date on which CBI handed over the case documents to Punjab government;
* If the documents of the case were never handed over to the Punjab government by CBI, the date on which the contempt petition was filed by state of Punjab against the central agency;
* the investigation which was conducted in those FIRs even without the documents having been received back from CBI;
* the date on which you got to know for the first time that the CBI was filing the closure report;
* the date on which you filed a contempt petition before the High Court against CBI after getting to know that the CBI was filing the closure report;
* and the date on which the closure report was filed by the CBI before the Ld special court.