The Punjab government has decided to take legal recourse to obtain the files pertaining to the probe carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Bargari sacrilege cases, the move coming at a time when there is a simmering resentment among the ruling Congress legislators over the central agency filing its closure report in the cases.
The sudden change of heart comes following reports that MLAs were planning an action that could have left the government embarrassed. After CBI filed the closure report, giving clean chit to the accused in the case, the Punjab Police wrote a letter to the central agency urging it to reopen the case. The miffed Congress MLAs had been preparing to write to Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh seeking a breach of privilege against the Punjab Police on the plea that the state government had recalled the cases from CBI after the House passed a resolution.
After getting a wind of the MLAs move, the government got into action mode and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh called a meeting of senior government and police officials at a five-star hotel on Wednesday. Sources in the government said that the government decided to move court to seek the files pertaining to investigations in the Bargari sacrilege case from the CBI.
“The government is preparing to go to the court. It will present its case stating that the CBI did not have a mandate to investigate the case after Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution to withdraw the case from the central agency. The decision was later upheld by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 25 this year when a former police officer, Charanjit Sharma, had moved a plea against government’s decision,” a source in the know of the developments said.
The government is also likely to point out the shoddy investigation carried out by the CBI. “According to CBI investigation, nobody committed sacrilege. But our point is that somebody did it and we should find out. As HC has upheld our decision, we have every right to withdraw the case from CBI. Hence, we will seek court’s intervention,” a senior government functionary said.
While the government has woken up now, it was caught napping when the CBI filed the closure report in a Mohali court earlier last month. After denotifying the notification on September 6, 2018, under which the Bargari case was handed to CBI on November 2, 2015, the government did not follow up the case with the central agency. The agency did not return the case to the state.
One stone, two birds
If the government goes to court seeking withdrawal of Bargari case from CBI, it would pacify the MLAs, who have been protesting silently against the state police for seeking reopening of the case by CBI after it filed the closure report. Sacrilege is a political and emotive issue in Punjab. It may also give the government an edge against the Opposition.