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Can’t interfere if FIRs challenged on parallel probe: High court

October 18, 2020 06:02 AM


Can’t interfere if FIRs challenged on parallel probe: High court
Observes that probe report in respect of each accused will need to be seen individually
Surender Sharma

CHANDIGARH : The Punjab and Haryana high court has said that first information reports (FIRs) of 2015 sacrilege cases if only challenged on the premise that two agencies are on a parallel probe into the same alleged offence can’t be adjudicated afresh.

The high court bench of justice Amol Rattan Singh observed that probe report in respect of each accused would need to be seen individually. “..However, with the ground of challenge only being that the same matter is also subject matter of investigation by the CBI ....... would amount to this court (this bench) considering the validity of the order passed by a coordinate bench directing that such investigation be taken by the SIT (special investigation team) to its logical conclusion, which obviously is something a coordinate bench has no jurisdiction to do,” justice Singh observed. The bench was referring to an order passed by a coordinate bench on the plea of Charanjit Singh, a senior superintendent of police (SSP) level officer, in 2018, in which SIT was told to continue with the probe.

The high court bench was hearing petitions from Sukhjinder Singh and Shakti Singh, two Dera Sacha Sauda followers who had argued that Punjab Police probe was ‘illegal’ as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is still probing the FIRs.

Two people died in the violence reported after incidents of sacrilege in 2015.

Three FIRs on incidents of sacrilege were recommended for a CBI probe in 2015 by Punjab, out of which state passed a resolution to withdraw two FIRs in August 2018. In the same resolution, it also withdrew two more FIRs related to violence, entrusted to CBI, barely four days after the move.

There are a total of four FIRs registered to probe incidents of violence.

A number of cops have been named as accused now for violence, including former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini.

Same FIRs are being tried in CBI special courts and other courts in the state. The CBI says it registered FIRs after department of personnel and training (DoPT), Government of India, notification.

The DoPT has not rescinded it and same is still in existence, authorising the CBI to conduct its probe, the CBI says.

Justice Singh further observed that primarily issue of maintainability arises as coordinate bench while dealing with the issue of withdrawal of consent for the CBI probe, eventually directed the state police SIT to continue with the probe. Hence FIRs such as against these two persons were very much subject matter of judgment rendered in Charanjit Singh’s case, the bench asserted.

Senior advocate Vinod Ghai, appearing for the accused, had argued that those petitions were in the case of different persons and certain vital aspects did not come to the notice of the then bench including the law point and there is no bar for another court to adjudicate these cases.

“...naturally I (subject to any law to be cited contrary to this observation), would be extremely circumspect in even entertaining this petition,” Justice Singh observed asking Ghai to deal with the issue of maintainability of the plea further adding that if there is any other issue raised by the petitioners, that could definitely be gone into adjudication, but not the issue dealt with by earlier bench.

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