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SC notice to Punjab govt over anticipatory bail plea by ex-DGP Saini

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Punjab government, seeking its response on the anticipatory bail plea of former director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in a case related to the alleged abduction and murder of a junior engineer, Balwant Singh Multani, in 1991.

ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 14-10-2020 17:27 IST | Created: 14-10-2020 17:27 IST
SC notice to Punjab govt over anticipatory bail plea by ex-DGP Saini
Supreme Court of India. Image Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Punjab government, seeking its response on the anticipatory bail plea of former director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in a case related to the alleged abduction and murder of a junior engineer, Balwant Singh Multani, in 1991. Apart from the Punjab government, a Bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan, also sought a response from Multani's brother who had lodged a complaint of custodial torture against Saini and six other officers earlier this year.

Posting the matter for further hearing after four weeks, the Bench asked the Punjab government not to proceed in the case for the time being. Saini has challenged the Punjab and Haryana High Court's September 7 order, dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in the case.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Saini, submitted before the apex court that the interest of the Punjab government is evident in this case. "I will show you how gross and vindictive is its attitude," Rohatgi said. He argued that Saini is a highly decorated officer and there are scores of death threats on him. "Saini took part in hundreds of operations and busted terror networks. When he was a DGP, he lodged five cases against Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh," he said.

Regarding the 1991 incident, Rohatgi said Saini was handpicked to serve as a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Chandigarh. "There was a bomb blast in Chandigarh in 1991 and the idea was to assassinate Saini. An FIR was registered in Chandigarh, Sector 17, and Balwant Multani was arrested in December 1991," he added. After Saini retired in 2018, Multani's brother lodged an FIR against him and two other officers this year on May 5 on the charges of custodial torture in 1991, Rohatgi said, adding that they got anticipatory bail on May 11 from the Sessions court.

"There can't be three FIRs in the same offense. This is the third FIR after 29 years... This is a case of political vendetta, after Saini retired," Rohatgi said. He also said Punjab has no jurisdiction in the case as the alleged torture happened in Sector 17, Chandigarh -- a Union Territory. "The state cannot add Section 302 to FIR without leave of the trial judge," he said.

Saini was earlier granted three weeks' interim protection from arrest. In his petition, Saini has also sought quashing of the FIR.

Saini, who was the youngest DGP in the country, retired in 2018 after 36 years of service. After that, the 1982-batch IPS officer was booked, along with six others, on May 6 this year at Mataur police station in Mohali for alleged kidnapping and wrongful confinement of Multani in 1991, among other charges.

Later in August, a murder charge was added to the FIR, after two co-accused turned approvers, and in their statement, claimed to be witnesses to the torture meted out to Multani, under the custody of former DGP Saini who was then the SSP of Chandigarh. Multani worked with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation and was picked up by the police after a terrorist attack on Saini who was then Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police. Saini was injured in the attack and three policemen were killed.

"On August 29, 1991, the blast took place. During the investigation, it was found that Devendar Singh Bhullar, who is undergoing a life sentence, and Multani were involved in the case," claimed the plea. (ANI)


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