May 10, 2021 12:39:23 am
Amid disquiet in the Congress over a six-month time-frame given to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conclude its probe into the 2015 Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing, the state government on Sunday made it clear that this time-frame was not set by it but by the Punjab & Haryana High Court.
In a statement issued on Sunday, a spokesperson said the new SIT, constituted by the state government on the orders of the court, was not, however, barred by the court from completing the probe earlier, even within two months if possible.
This comes even as a number of Congress leaders are upset with the state government over the time-frame.
Pointing to the High Court order dated April 9, 2021, the spokesperson observed that as per Direction (vii), “the investigation of these FIRs shall be concluded as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months from the date of the constitution of SIT”. This court direction has been simply reproduced in the SIT re-constitution notification issued by the state government, which has been specifically barred from interfering in any manner, as per Direction (ii) and (iv) of the order, said the spokesperson.
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As is evident from the court directive, the period of six months is an upper/outer limit which has been imposed by the High Court, the spokesperson pointed out, adding that the SIT is free to conclude investigation before that.
Reacting to criticism of the government on the six-month deadline, the spokesperson said it was clear that the notification, and the intent, of the state government had been misread and misconstrued by certain elements, motivated by vested political interests.
The Captain Amarinder Singh-led government, said the spokesperson, was “totally committed to ensuring a free and fair investigation into the incident, to ensure justice for the innocent and punishment for the guilty”. In accordance with this commitment, the state government had set up the new SIT instead of merely contesting the court’s decision to quash the earlier SITs investigations, he added.
The new SIT has the clear mandate to start work immediately and take the investigations to their logical conclusion, with total compliance with the directions of the High Court, which has stipulated that there would be not interference from any quarter, external or internal, in the investigation process. Any deviation from the court orders will only make the SIT vulnerable to action against it by the courts, which would merely delay the whole process instead of expediting it, the spokesperson further noted.
The spokesperson further said that the SIT had already conducted its first meeting virtually on May 8, a day after it was constituted, and started the process of investigations by summoning the case file and other relevant records from the Faridkot court.
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