THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court on Thursday stayed proceedings initiated against three former police officers by the Punjab government on the recommendations of Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission after they challenged the procedure adopted by the government in setting up of the Court of Inquiry and its “adjudicatory role” in the whole matter.
The single-judge bench of Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, after a hearing which lasted more than two hours, gave the stay order on further proceedings against former Moga SSP Charanjeet Singh, former SSP Mansa Raghbir Singh Sandhu and former SHO Bajakhana Amarjit Singh Kalar until further orders. Charanjeet and Kalar were added as accused in the FIR registered for murder in the 2015 Behbal Kalan firing case following recommendations of the Commission.
Senior Advocate Akshay Bhan, who represented the three petitioners, raised three legal issues to seek quashing of the report submitted by the Commission, which recommended action against the police officers for their role in the case during a public protest against sacrilege incidents in Hoshiarpur in 2015.
The government counsel, while accepting notice on behalf of the State and Commission, sought a short date for them to present their side. The case will now be taken up for hearing on September 20.
Bhan argued that the three retired police officers had been indicted by the Commission without being heard and given the right to cross-examine the witnesses on whose deposition they were indicted. The court was also informed that the retired police officers were facing the threat of immediate arrest due which they had approached the court for protection.
“The political alignments will keep on changing… we are making a mockery of the process,” Bhan argued as he also raised questions against the mandate exercised by the Commission and the procedure adopted to substitute the Justice (retd) Zora Singh Commission with Justice (retd) Ranjit Singh Commission by the Punjab government.