Two days after Punjab Assembly passed a resolution asking the government to withdraw Bargari sacrilege and Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan police firing cases from CBI, the government sought a legal opinion on the issue amidst the controversy that a state cannot withdraw cases from the central investigation agency.
The matter has been sent to Advocate General Atul Nanda for legal opinion. The government is also waiting for the resolution from the Assembly. “We have not received it from the Vidhan Sabha yet,” said a senior functionary of the government, adding that the August 24, 2018, notification to hand over the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura police firing cases to the CBI and the November 2015 notification regarding the Bargari sacrilege would be denotified. The information will be sent to the CBI, along with the resolution of the Assembly for withdrawal.
Nanda said he had not seen any file from the government yet as he was busy with several cases in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said there was no impediment in the CBI returning the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing case.
A functionary said in the matters of investigation there is a magistracy system, which is followed. The government will approach the Centre, CBI and concerned court for withdrawal.
It has been learnt that the bureaucracy and political leadership of the ruling party, however, are not on same page on withdrawing the CBI inquiry.
The decision to withdraw the case from the CBI was taken in Monday’s Cabinet meeting. Later, on Tuesday, Cabinet Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa was handed over the copy of the resolution by the Chief Minister to bring it in the Assembly. “The Supreme Court orders that the states cannot withdraw the cases handed to the CBI were discussed by the CM, AG and Cabinet ministers. Then it was decided to get a resolution passed so that it became a legislative and not an executive decision,” said a source, adding that a senior functionary of the government was against the withdrawal on the plea that if the case would be withdrawn, the political leadership would seek arrest of former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. He was of the opinion that this could invite criticism for the government for indulging in vendetta.
That is our biggest worry now. Once the SIT is constituted, they will put pressure on the government to make some arrests,” said a government official.
On the other hand, the political leadership is learnt to have told the Chief Minister that the handing over of this case to the CBI had caused disappointment among people. They told him that if corrective measures were not taken, the Zila Parishad elections may not go in the Congress’s favour.