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Sunday, September 26, 2021

IO in Saini case ‘ill-advised’, ‘over-energetic’, but no case for contempt: Punjab and Haryana HC

The court, however, observed that “the e-mail seems to have been sent by an over-energetic police officer but the same could not be a matter of his own choice and he seems to have been ill-advised regarding the same by someone from behind the scene”.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
September 1, 2021 8:25:11 am
On August 19, during the course of hearing on petition filed by Saini’s wife, and Saini’s plea of blanket bail, an e-mail was received on the official e-mail ID of Justice Tyagi. (File)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday decided not to initiate contempt proceedings against a Vigilance Bureau official who had shot an email to the HC Chief Justice seeking transfer of matter related to former Punjab DGP Sumedh Saini from the bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi to any other coordinate bench claiming ‘undue hurry’ being shown by Justice Tyagi’s bench.

The court, however, observed that “the e-mail seems to have been sent by an over-energetic police officer but the same could not be a matter of his own choice and he seems to have been ill-advised regarding the same by someone from behind the scene”.

On August 19, during the course of hearing on petition filed by Saini’s wife, and Saini’s plea of blanket bail, an e-mail was received on the official e-mail ID of Justice Tyagi. This mail by Harvinder Pal Singh, Investigating Officer, in the FIR number-11 of September 17, 2020, by Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, addressed to the Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, had sought transfer of both the petitions as well as the main case from the bench of Justice Tyagi to any other coordinate bench alleging “undue hurry” being shown by Justice Tyagi’s bench. It had further alleged that no opportunity was being given to the state to present its case.

On Tuesday, Justice Tyagi said observed: “I have gone through the e-mail and also heard counsel for the parties on the question as to whether proceedings for contempt of court are required to be initiated against Harvinder Pal Singh.”

He added: “I am of the considered view that where litigant has a reasonable apprehension of not getting justice from a particular court, he has the remedy of applying for transfer of the case which remedy cannot be denied to any litigant…..Whether any valid ground for transfer is made out is for Hon’ble the Chief Justice to decide and not for the concerned bench.”

The bench further observed: “The e-mail seems to have been sent by an over-energetic police officer but the same could not be a matter of his own choice and he seems to have been ill-advised regarding the same by someone from behind the scene. I am not only conscious of the harsh reality that the police officers work under tremendous pressure and even risk their lives in their fight against crime but also aware of the fact that unfortunately one feature of our polity is that the police officers have to tow the line of politicians in power being under double-edged sword where they suffer if they do not abide by the dictates and also run the risk of being victimised later on when rival politicians come to power…”

Justice Tyagi thus held that no reference for initiation of contempt of court proceedings is required to be made against Harvinder Pal Singh, in respect of the averments made in the e-mail.

“The majesty of this court is preserved and upheld not by initiation of contempt proceedings but by the manner in which it protects fundamental rights of the citizens and extends equal protection of laws and equality before law and justice to all who approach this court and that is with what I would like this matter of initiation of contempt proceedings to end,” held Justice Tyagi in the order.

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