The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday dismissed two petitions filed by former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in a 29-year-old case of alleged abduction, disappearance and custodial death of Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Junior Engineer Balwant Singh Multani. Saini, a 1982-batch IPS officer who faces arrest in the case, is absconding.
The court on Tuesday rejected Saini’s anticipatory bail plea and a second petition in which he had sought that the FIR in the case be quashed due to “non-maintainability” or the case be handed over to the CBI. Both petitions were dismissed by Justice Fateh Deep Singh.
Last month, the SIT probing the case had added murder charge to the FIR against Saini and six others after two cops accused in the case turned approvers.
Saini, who had earlier got interim bail in the case, is on the run after denial of anticipatory bail by a Mohali court after section of murder (Section 302 of IPC) was added.
The SIT, which has conducted raids at Saini’s properties in Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and other places, remains clueless about the former DGP’s whereabouts.
The FIR in the 1991 abduction case names Saini, who was then Chandigarh SSP, and six other policemen of various ranks. It was registered on May 6 at Mataur police station in Mohali district on the complaint of Multani’s brother Palwinder Singh Multani.
After dismissal of petitions, Saini has the last remedy of moving the Supreme Court. Saini’s counsel, A P S Deol, said on Tuesday, “We will go through the High Court order and file a petition in the Supreme Court.”
Saini had absconded from his Sector 20 residence in Chandigarh, leaving behind the Z plus security details provided to him due to threat perception.
Questions are being raised as to how Saini managed to abscond amid Z plus security provided to him which should have followed the protectee all time under all circumstances.
A senior Punjab Police officer, however, said “The onus to carry security was on the protectee”. The officer added, “The security details of Saini is still at his residence. Not only Saini, but his family also needs security due to threat perception.”
As Saini faces arrest in the case, it is also being analysed what measures would be taken once he was sent to jail due to very high threat perception.
A senior Punjab Police officer said it would be the responsibility of the jails administration in that scenario to make adequate arrangements in the jail premises to ensure his security.
Saini has been provided with a security detail of more than 40 personnel who work in shifts, said the official, adding that the security details included fixed guards, escort personnel, personal security officers and drivers. Saini has also been provided a bullet resistance vehicle.
An official said that in due course of time, if Saini was not arrested in the case, proceedings to get Saini declared as proclaimed offender would also be initiated.
A top Punjab Police officer said Saini was “evading arrest as he knew all the ins and outs being a retired top cop”. The officer added, “There are number of proclaimed offenders in the state who continue to be at large.”
In such scenario, the officer added, even if Saini was declared a PO, it would be a daunting task to arrest Saini. “We don’t know where he is. No one knows,” said the officer, wishing not to be named.
On both the petitions filed by Saini, Punjab and Haryana High Court had heard arguments from both sides for over four hours on Monday and had reserved the pronouncement of the judgment for Tuesday. Earlier, two High Court judges had recused themselves from hearing the petitions — one for anticipatory bail which was marked to Justice Suvir Sehgal and other for quashing of FIR or handing over case to the CBI which was marked to Justice Amol Rattan Singh. The petitions were subsequently marked to Justice Fateh Deep Singh for hearing.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines