September 5, 2021 5:44:46 am
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed more than a dozen petitions filed by several retired Punjab Police officials, who had moved the HC questioning the jurisdiction of CBI’s Jammu branch in probing cases of alleged disappearances and killings of Punjab youths from 1992 to 1994. The petitioners had moved HC after their similar pleas were dismissed by special CBI judge, Patiala, on October 21, 2016.
The Patiala court had dismissed the contention that CBI’s Jammu branch did not have territorial jurisdiction to register the case and conduct the trial.
Now, the HC bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan has held that the jurisdiction of CBI’s Jammu branch to probe the cases related to disappearance of youths in Punjab from 1992 to 1994 cannot be held illegal.
The petitioner’s had pleaded that the cases were registered in Jammu despite the fact that all the incidents were related to the state of Punjab.
It was argued that the CBI inherently lacks jurisdiction under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, to operate in Jammu and Kashmir as the Jammu unit had no territorial jurisdiction beyond the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per the CBI manual.
The case against the petitioners (Punjab policemen) was registered in 1997 on the directions of the SC to CBI for investigation regarding the abduction and killing of Sukhwinder Singh in Amritsar, Punjab, and similarly other connected cases were registered by CBI for the alleged killings of persons in Punjab.
In 1999, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against the accused but the trial in these cases could not commence because the accused had approached the HC and obtained a stay on the trial court proceedings.
The petitioners in this case had sought directions to set aside the order dated October 21, 2016, passed by the special judge, CBI, Patiala (now shifted to Mohali), vide which the application filed by the petitioners for dropping the proceedings was dismissed.
After hearing all the parties, the HC Bench held that the CBI probe by the Jammu unit cannot be said to be without jurisdiction as it was directed by the apex court.
The HC, however, made it clear that any shortcomings highlighted by the petitioners before the court can be clarified by the apex court.
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