Nine days after Punjab Assembly passed a resolution seeking from the government to withdraw Bargari desecration and Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases from CBI, the government on Thursday issued a notification withdrawing the cases from the central investigation agency. The government would now write to the Union government as well as the CBI seeking withdrawal of the cases while appending Thursday’s notification and also the resolution passed by the Vidhan Sabha with the communique.
Action followed after the government took a legal opinion on the issue amid a controversy surrounding the decision that the state cannot withdraw a case from the central investigation agency. Advocate General Atul Nanda, in his legal opinion, has stated that the Centre was empowered to allow the state to withdraw a case from CBI especially if the applicant in the case was people’s representative.
In this case, it was the state Assembly that had passed a resolution unanimously with both Congress and Aam Aadmi Party members supporting it.
Two notifications, one dated August 24, 2018, regarding handing over of the case of Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing FIRs to CBI and November 2015 notification regarding Bargari sacrilege, have been withdrawn after Thursday’s notification. The investigation of Bargari sacrilege was handed over to CBI by the previous SAD-BJP government and both cases of police firing were handed over by the Congress government.
The CBI had initiated investigations into Bargari sacrilege case, but is yet to initiate probes in the other. With withdrawing the notifications, and by writing to Centre, the state government has put the ball in the Union government’s court. “The ruling party is in a win-win situation. If Centre allows us to withdraw it, we will say Congress government is doing its best to bring the guilty to book. If it does not, we will say Akalis are not allowing ally BJP to allow withdrawal,” said a Congress leader. Withdrawal of cases from CBI was a result of persistence of several party leaders who impressed upon the CM that the state police should investigate the cases as the central agency would take long and they would not be able to take the cases to a logical conclusion. The entire state is keenly watching whether the cases would be allowed to be withdrawn or not.
Exercising the powers conferred under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the Punjab Governor has withdrawn his consent given for handing over the cases to the CBI.