September 7, 2020 9:55:03 pm
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reserved till Tuesday its judgment in two pleas filed by former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. The first plea is for anticipatory bail in a 29-year-old case of alleged abduction, disappearance and custodial death case of Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Junior Engineer Balwant Singh Multani, while the second demands that either the FIR registered against Saini and other policemen in May this year be quashed or the case be handed over to the CBI.
Saini, who had earlier got interim bail in the case, is on the run after denial of anticipatory bail by a Mohali court after two co-accused cops turned approvers against him and section of murder (Section 302 of IPC) was added last month in the FIR. The FIR in the 1991 abduction case names Saini, who was then Chandigarh SSP, and six other policemen of various ranks. It was registered on May 6 at Mataur police station in Mohali district on the complaint of Multani’s brother Palwinder Singh Multani.
After Justice Fatehdeep Singh on Monday reserved the judgment, prosecution and Saini’s counsel said order on the pleas was likely to be pronounced on Tuesday. Arguments from both sides on the pleas started at 11 am and lasted till 4:15 pm on Monday.
Saini’s counsel, A P S Deol, said that court was told that case should be quashed because of “non-maintability”.
Deol said he argued that “second FIR was not maintainable in view of the Supreme Court judgment and investigation should be set aside.”
The case against Saini and others earlier registered by the CBI in July 2008 was quashed by the Supreme Court in 2011 as erstwhile Akali government in Punjab strongly defended him. The prosecution defended the fresh FIR saying that case was maintainable as Supreme Court had quashed FIR on technical ground, leaving it open for the complaint to take further legal recourse, if permissible under the law.
Saini’s counsel argued that that former DGP was earlier granted bail before section 302 of IPC was added in the case registered in May and he should be granted anticipatory bail as it was the same case.
Special Public Prosecutor Sartej Singh Narula appearing for the state of Punjab, however, argued that when Saini was given bail, the investigations was at the initial stage and there was hardly any evidence collected by the SIT.
Narula further said, “As of now there was sufficient evidence on record to prove indictment of Sumedh Singh Saini in the custodial death of Balwant Singh Multani.”
Narula told over phone that court was told that “Further his (Saini’s) custodial interrogation was required to find out about the police officials involved in illegal abduction, detention, torture, and disposal of the body of Balwant Singh Multani. Besides antecedents of Sumedh Singh Saini were brought to the notice of the court including the fact that in earlier triple murder case going against him in Delhi, even after his retirement the CBI investigating officer had turned hostile. Sumedh Singh Saini was also responsible for intimidating a sitting High Court judge in that case which is reported judgment given by Justice V K Jhanji”.
Narula said, “Arguments in the case took place for more than four hours. The petition seeking quashing of the FIR, and or transfer of investigation was also taken up on the issue of its maintainability as order by the previous bench. After hearing the parties, orders in both the cases were reserved. The matters are to be taken up tomorrow when there is likelihood of the orders in both cases being pronounced.”
With no interim relief so far, the former DGP, who retired as Punjab Police Housing Corporation Chairman in June 2018, is absconding even as Punjab police teams have conducted raids – including on his house in Sector 20 in Chandigarh, and a property in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.