FORMER PUNJAB director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini filed an application in the Ludhiana court of sessions judge Gurbir Singh Wednesday challenging the closure report filed by vigilance in Rs 1,144 crore alleged Ludhiana City Centre ‘scam’. Saini has claimed that as he was the Director Vigilance Punjab and headed vigilance bureau from March 2007-March 2012, he should be heard once before court accepts cancellation report. He has also questioned ‘unexplained delay of ten years’ in moving closure report by vigilance and submitted that he is in possession of some ‘sensitive material’ which he wants to submit in court in a ‘sealed envelope’.
This comes four months after another investigating officer in the case, ex-SSP vigilance Ludhiana Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, moved a similar application claiming that probe done by department was completely based on facts and only then FIR was registered on March 23, 2007 against Captain Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh, son-in-law Raminder Singh and other accused. But ex-SSP’s application to be heard once was dismissed. In his application filed Wednesday, Saini has submitted that as it was on his orders (as director vigilance) that Ludhiana SSP had filed FIR in the case in 2007, he should be heard once.
“Since ex-SSP’s plea was dismissed by court saying that not he but director vigilance was the actual complainant and key investigator on whose orders FIR was registered, we have appealed that we should be heard once by virtue of his position then. Ludhiana SSP had filed FIR after getting written orders from director vigilance who was Sumedh Singh Saini. Also, we are in possession of some sensitive material which he wants to submit in court in a sealed envelope. Also, then has been an unexplained and prolonged delay of ten years by vigilance in moving a closure report. A U-turn has been taken after a decade which too we have raised in our plea,” said Ramanpreet Singh Sandhu, Saini’s counsel.
Despite report, a case that still needs ‘closure’
This is the only case pending against the Punjab Chief Minister in which he is booked under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). The charges date back to his previous tenure. The closure report in the case, filed within six months of the Congress forming the government last year after winning the 2017 Assembly elections, raised questions about the vigilance department's role and its independence. The case was filed by the Akali government. Wednesday's application by Sumedh Singh Saini, former DGP, who was heading the vigilance department at the time, is the fourth such challenge.. Saini was indicted earlier this year by the Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission of Inquiry into the incidents of desecration in 2015, as one of the police officers responsible for the firing that killed two in Faridkot.
The application further says that it is ‘unclear’ that under what circumstances a ‘re-investigation’ was done after ten years and if ‘it was in accordance with law or not’.
‘Certain wrong facts have been organised by some of the accused who are both moneyed and influential, including causing harm to those who have investigated the case and discharged their duties in accordance with law,” further reads Saini’s plea.
Asking the court to permit him to file a ‘supplementary detailed application’, the plea says, ‘The applicant may kindly be permitted to file a supplementary detailed application which is necessary in interest of both justice and in public interest.’
The court accepting Saini’s application has issued notices to prosecution and defence counsels to file their replies. The next hearing is now scheduled on December 7. In this decade-old case in which CM Captain Amarinder Singh and others are booked for cheating, forgery and corruption, appeals are also pending in Punjab and High Court. An appeal filed by MLA Simarjit Singh Bains against closure report is scheduled for hearing on December 4.
Then, a separate application filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) asking for court’s permission to inspect case file for money laundering is pending too. After trial court granted permission to ED, one of the accused Chetan Gupta moved High Court which stayed lower court’s orders. The ED case is now scheduled for hearing on December 6 in High Court and December 15 in trial court.