April 15, 2021 5:55:15 am
Facing flak from within the party over high court trashing SIT probe into the 2015 Kotkapura firing incident and amid demands that the legal team handling the case be fired, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh defended Advocate General Atul Nanda while terming the criticism against him as “baseless and politically motivated.”
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had on Friday quashed the SIT probe report. The Punjab government Saturday said it will challenge the court order with the CM asserting that the probe into the Kotkapura firing case was “totally fair, impartial and unbiased”.
On Wednesday, Amarinder slammed opposition parties, accusing them of deliberately trying to provoke public sentiment to create “trouble” ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.
Without naming party colleague and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, who also opened a front against Nanda, Amarinder dubbed it a “brazen game-plan” of vested interests trying to “mislead” the people of the state with their deliberately “misleading” statements on different aspects of the sacrilege litigation.
Contrary to what these vested interests, including leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were projecting, the fact was that the sacrilege cases were being handled separately in the courts from the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases, said the CM.
The AG and his team had been tasked with defending the state only in the sacrilege matters, he said.
It was to the credit of the AG and his team, which fought the case hard and effectively in the courts, that the CBI, which had made no progress in the matter for nearly four years, was forced to hand over all case papers to the Punjab Police SIT on February 5, he added.
He said a separate special investigation team, headed by Inspector General SPS Parmar, is now probing the sacrilege cases. The CM said this, in itself, falsifies all allegations of any collusion between the ruling government and the accused of this heinous crime.
The case will be taken to its logical conclusion and those guilty will be punished as a result of the concerted efforts of the AG and his team, he added.
As for the Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases, the AG was not even involved in the defence, which was being undertaken by a specialised legal team from the Supreme Court headed by leading criminal lawyers Siddharth Luthra and others from Delhi, the CM said.
The team of Delhi lawyers had also been working relentlessly to defend the state in the matter of the police firing cases probe, he said, asserting that he also had full faith in the SIT headed by Kunwar Vijay Pratap to investigate the firing cases.
The entire agenda of those resorting to brazen lies and fabrications to denigrate the AG and his team, as well as the legal team from Delhi, was to scuttle the state government’s efforts to bring the guilty to justice in both, the sacrilege and the firing cases, he said.
Earlier in the day, Bajwa said the state lost the case in the high court “due to the incompetence of the Advocate General, who had never appeared in these cases”.
“The duty of the Advocate General is to defend the state government in its litigation before various courts. In the present case, state of Punjab has an Advocate General who does not appear himself but gets lawyers from Delhi to appear in front of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This clearly shows that the Advocate General himself is aware of his own failings. Such an act and conduct are contrary to the duties of the Advocate General and hence, he must be removed. Any person can get lawyers from Delhi to appear in important cases,” Bajwa said.
Bajwa said he that Nanda paid about Rs 5.5 crore to the Delhi lawyers for defending these cases and wasted the money.
Bajwa said Nanda should take responsibility for repeated professional failures and resign from his position. “If he is unwilling to do so, I urge the Government of Punjab to relieve him from his position and appoint a new Advocate General. “
The party leader called on the CM to call an emergency meeting of all Congress MLAs, ministers and Members of Parliament from both Houses to have a threadbare discussion on the issue.
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