The Punjab government on Thursday filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the Punjab and Haryana High Court order quashing the findings of an SIT probe in the Kotkapura police firing case.
This came on a day the high court released on bail Punjab’s former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini who was arrested late Wednesday by the Vigilance Bureau in a separate case. Saini, a 1982-batch IPS officer who was appointed the state police chief in 2012, was removed from the post in 2015 following the incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib and ensuing police firing on people protesting against it. Two persons had died in the police firing.
The HC, in an order passed on April 9, had not only quashed the investigation into the Kotkapura firing terming it “politically motivated”, but had also asked the state to reconstitute the SIT, headed by then IGP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh. It had ordered forming another SIT minus Vijay Pratap.
To move to file the SLP, more than four months after the HC order, is being seen as a political compulsion for the Congress-led government, which had been facing flak over the issue, ahead of the next year’s Assembly election.
The decision to go to the apex court was taken following personal intervention of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, after Advocate General Atul Nanda and Home Secretary Anurag Agarwal had locked horns over the issue and the concerned file kept making rounds of both the offices.
The CM had directed Nanda last month to file the SLP and had asked the Advocate General “to take charge and engage good lawyers”.
The government decided to file the SLP on the plea that HC had exceeded its jurisdiction and quashed the investigation even as the trial on the investigation had just started in a trial court. It decided to take the plea that the quashing orders had come on the petition filed by a Punjab Police Inspector, Gurdeep Singh, who had sought relief for himself in HC in the case.
Earlier, the AG was reluctant to file the SLP as the HC had passed the orders after asking the government to choose from three options. The HC had gone ahead with the option accepted by the Punjab DGP — that of reconstituting the SIT. After the HC order, the CM had faced a rebellion with most of the ministers in the Cabinet questioning him.
The HC had given three options to the state. These included transferring the case to the CBI for investigation; to hand over the probe to Haryana Police; or to hand over the investigation to a reconstituted SIT that did not have Kunwar Vijay Partap in it.
The DGP chose the third option and the HC quashed the investigations and directed the state to reconstitute the SIT. Nanda had opined that the AG was the advocate in the case and the DGP was the client. Challenging the HC order will also amount to challenging the portion of the judgment that was delivered after taking option from the DGP.