Overruling the Central Bureau of Investigation’s unwillingness to take up cases of breach of Munak canal during last year’s Jat quota agitation in Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday handed over the four FIRs registered in connection with the damage of the 102-km-long canal to the investigative agency for an expeditious probe. The HC stayed the trial proceedings in the four FIRs and asked the investigating agency to submit a report within eight weeks.
During the 2016 agitation, the breach of Munak canal in Sonepat district had resulted in a severe water crisis in the national capital for around two weeks. The canal is a major source of water from Yamuna river to Delhi. During the agitation, the protesters had on February 19 and February 21 damaged equipment used in the canal.
“The CBI cannot abdicate its responsibility to investigate the cases… which are likely to endanger the security of nation and public order,” the division bench of Justices S S Saron and Darshan Singh observed during the resumed hearing of a case. The court also recorded the observations made in the report of Prakash Singh Committee formed last year to probe the role of civil administration and police in the riots. Referring to the canal breach, the report had said it “points to a grave internal security threat to India’s critical national infrastructure” since the canal supplies water to the national capital.
During the last hearing of the case on April 6, the Sonepat SP had submitted that of the four FIRs registered in the case, ‘challans’ had been filed only in two cases while “un-traced” reports had been prepared in other two FIRs.
“It is to be noticed that out of 3,000/4,000 persons who are stated to be involved in arson and breach of the canal, police reports (‘challan’) have been filed only against 4-5 persons, that too without arrests. Some video clippings of the breaches are available with the police. From these, if efforts are made, more persons can be identified,” the court had written in its orders, while asking the CBI counsel to seek instructions as to
whether they could take over the investigation of these cases. During the hearing of the case, the amicus curiae in the case handed over a letter written by a person, whose identity was ordered by the court to be kept confidential, to the bench which handed it over to the CBI. The letter was related to the Munak canal breach.
Observing that the Haryana government is compromising the security and law & order in the state, the High Court on Tuesday said it was disheartened with the approach shown by the state government in investigating the cases registered against the rioters during the 2016 agitation.
“We are requesting you… we can beg you to carry out a through investigations in the FIRs,” the division bench observed. “We are saying people who committed rape… should be brought to book. What is wrong in that? You should be more eager than us (but) you are running away from it. All offenders are offenders. Why all the time you want to run away.”
The observations from the division bench came after senior advocate and amicus curiae in the case, Anupam Gupta, informed the court that the Rohtak police through its affidavit had submitted that only 173 people had been arrested to date in the 1,212 cases registered in the district.
On the Murthal gangrape case, the court was informed that the in-charge of SIT Inspector General Mamta Singh was on a medical leave. The court ordered other investigators in the SIT to conduct the probe without any break. A police report on the case, presented in a sealed cover, was also examined by the court.