SC reserves order on bail plea of ex-DGP of Punjab

SC reserves order on anticipatory bail plea of ex-DGP of Punjab in alleged murder case

Credit: PTI/file photo.

The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved order on the plea by former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini seeking anticipatory bail in a 1991 case of alleged murder of a junior engineer, and sought to know if his custody was needed at all in the 29-year-old matter.

The top court had on September 15 granted interim protection from the arrest to Saini and sought the state government's reply on his plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order refusing to grant him anticipatory bail in the case of alleged murder of Balwant Singh Multani.

The interim relief to him against any coercive action will continue.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah reserved order after hearing arguments from senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Siddarth Luthra and K V Vishwanathan who represented Saini, the state government and the brother of deceased respectively.

Rohatgi said Saini had been a “decorated” officer, who rose from the ranks, and was a prime target of terrorists for his ruthless handling of the menace in Punjab and the present case is an example of political vendetta as some FIRs were lodged against the present Chief Minister by him when he was the police officer.

However, Luthra, appearing for the state government, opposed the plea saying the grant of anticipatory bail to Saini at this stage would hamper the probe.

The bench asked as to why the custody of Saini would be needed when the almost 30 years have passed since the alleged offence was committed.

Rohatgi narrated the sequence of events in the case and said that Saini retired in 2018 and just after that he was granted relief from the Punjab and High Court that he would be given seven days prior notice in case of any coercive action is contemplated by the state.

He said Saini was also granted anticipatory bail from the trial court judge and once the relief was granted, it should have continued till the end of the trial.

On September 8, the high court had dismissed Saini's two pleas including the one on anticipatory bail in the alleged murder case.

Besides, Saini had also filed a petition in the high court seeking that either the case be quashed or transferred to the CBI.

Saini was booked in May in connection with the disappearance of Multani in 1991 when he was working as a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation.

Saini had approached the high court after a Mohali court dismissed his bail plea in this case on September 1.

The Punjab police on September 3 had claimed that Saini had “absconded” while denying his wife's claims of withdrawal of his security cover.

A Mohali court had on August 21 allowed the Punjab police to add a murder charge against him in this case. This came after two former Chandigarh police personnel, former UT police Inspector Jagir Singh and former ASI Kuldeep Singh, who are also co-accused, turned approver in the case.

Multani, who was a resident of Mohali, was picked up by police after a terrorist attack on Saini, who was then the senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh, in 1991.

However, the police had later claimed that Multani had escaped from police custody of Qadian police in Gurdaspur.

Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Multani's, Palwinder Singh Multani, who is a resident of Jalandhar.

The case was registered against them under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causes hurt) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Mataur police station in Mohali.

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