The bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court which had dismissed former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini’s plea seeking a stay and transfer of investigation of the 1991 Balwant Singh Multani case to CBI, has asserted that “…then a DGP, the highest officer of the state police force had shown such a scant regard for law, and has not only seriously undermined the fundamental rights of a citizen but gone to the extent of eliminating a precious human life in a manner which is beyond retribution…”
The judgement was pronounced through video conferencing on September 8. The detailed judgement was released on Monday, in which the bench of Justice Fateh Deep Singh observed, “He has set up a poor image and precedent for the force which is by virtue of the uniform and service oath to be the protectors of humans and not the terminators. What has come across to this court from the records depict depravity of mind and for which the petitioner deserves no compassion.”
Saini had approached the HC submitting that the investigation of the FIR against him are “non-est in the eyes of law”, and is “an outcome of malice, vengeance due to political considerations”. It was also argued by Saini’s counsels that the initial complainant, Darshan Singh Multani had since died, and the son Palwinder Singh could again initiate fresh proceedings on the same facts after the Supreme Court had earlier quashed the FIR, that too after such a long delay.
The HC bench however held, “It needs to be kept in mind that ‘a crime never dies’, in light of maxim…i.e. time lapse is no bar to take cognizance.”
Discarding the submissions of Saini’s counsel, the HC further said “…it is well elicited on the records, which clearly remains unrebutted, that immediately upon illegal detention, the family set into motion the law and so there is no apparent delay. However, since the local police were accused and the petitioner had by then attained much wider influence and power, frustrated all these endeavours. Since the father died, in view of the provisions of Section 256 Cr.P.C. the magistrate can continue with the proceedings in light of serious allegations of murder and the legal heir, a son, can certainly step into the shoes of the deceased father…”
“A serious and heinous crime has come about which has its repercussions on the society at large and the courts being concerned with dispensation of law are also tools of social justice. The first FIR case was not quashed on merits but on grounds of misdemeanor. So the principle of res-judicata does not come into play,” read the judgment.
The HC stated that the counsel though has adverted to at length of the alleged heroic acts of the petitioner and his victimisation at the hands of the politicians, but “the same does not come to his aid to wash off the blood of the crime from his smudged hands”. Moreover, “panicked over the law coming close on his heels the petitioner has raked up this subterfuge as a last resort to take undue sympathies of the court and which are subject to only appreciation at the trial”.
Declining the plea for transfer of case, the HC held that “the investigating agency is collecting evidence which is only available in the state of Punjab and it is easier even for the witnesses to get themselves examined before the SIT. The transfer would also result in protracted delay which suits the petitioner at this game of wits who since 1991 has managed to keep the law at bay”.
“…A person who inflicts an injury upon another person in contravention of law is not allowed to say that he did so with an innocent mind, he is taken to know the law and he must act within the law. He may therefore be guilty of malice in law, although so far as the state of his mind is concerned, he acts ignorantly and in that sense innocently…”, the bench said, quoting from the judgment in the Shearer versus Shields case, adding that the lines aptly apply to the civil writ petition filed by Saini.
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