In a scathing remark against Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while acquitting senior Akali leader Bibi Jagir Kaur of conspiracy behind the abduction and forcible abortion of her daughter in 2001, on Tuesday suggested that the investigating agency acted as a “persecuting agency”, along with the complainant to secure conviction in the case.
“We think the CBI acted as a persecuting agency, along with the complainant PW77 with a view to secure the conviction. think (the) CBI is a prosecuting agency and not a persecuting agency. It must maintain the highest moral standards,” a division bench of Justices A B Chaudhari and Kuldip Singh said in its 76-page verdict.
The court also commented on the hue and cry made in the media and petitions alleging political and social influence of the accused.
A case study in political loyalty
Made SGPC chief amid a battle between then SAD president Parkash Singh Badal and party veteran Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Bibi Jagir Kaur has always remained a staunch Badal loyalist. Despite being accused in the death case of her daughter in 2000, which was widely perceived to be a case of ‘honour killing’, Jagir Kaur always remained in the good books of SAD. While still being an accused in the case, she was fielded from Bholath in 2002, 2007, 2012 Assembly polls, and made a comeback in SGPC as president for the second time in 2004.
The comment regarding the CBI’s alleged connivance with the complainant, Kamaljeet Singh, has been made in the context of his somersault before the trial court. His examination-in-chief had taken place in April 2009, but 10 months later in 2010, the CBI declared him hostile and moved an application for perjury against him. Seven months after that in 2011, he moved another application stating that he had resiled due to pressure from accused and wanted to be re-examined.
However, prior to the application for recalling, the CBI during cross-examination, ended up accusing him of taking Rs 3 crore from the accused for resiling from his statement and suggested that his plan was to blackmail accused Kaur, for which he had prepared a video of his engagement with her daughter, led a trap for victim Harpeet Kaur, impregnated her and at the end approached the High Court to fulfil his motive.
Ruling that the trial court made a grave mistake in allowing the application for re-examination, the division bench, while commenting on the CBI’s role, said that the investigating agency at this stage again claimed him to be (a) star witness but “it ought to have in all fairness told the trial Court that the CBI having condemned its witness to the hilt and having suggested that he was a rank liar as he received Rs 3 crore, did not want to rely on him”.
While noting at the outset in the judgement that there was a hue and cry regarding Harpreet’s death, the division bench further said that the accused’s position in the politics and at the SGPC was “projected by media vociferously and the learned Judge accepted it.”
Stating that the projection before the High Court in the petitions for an independent probe and in the media that the accused was politically and socially influential and that truth was being suppressed, the division bench quoted an observation from a 1958 High Court verdict where Justice Tek Chand had said, “It is little realised that improper news items and comments regarding causes which are either pending or about to be taken up before courts of law, very often hamper and hinder the proper functioning of the courts”.