Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) seeking review of its order relieving IG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh as a member of the SIT probing Bagari firing incident. In his letter to CEC Sunil Arora, the Chief Minister said the SIT, comprising Kunwar Vijay Pratap was carrying out its legal mandate of a fair and transparent investigation, which was an ongoing statutory process under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and was not affected by the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
Singh argued the EC order of April 5, transferring the IG out of the SIT, "constituted interference in the ongoing investigation as also an implied conflict with the findings of the judgment of the High Court dated 25 January which had rejected the political allegations against the SIT's composition and manner of investigation." Asserting that there was nothing untoward or unusual about an investigating agency or team communicating with the press, the Chief Minister said: "Such briefings, releases by investigating agencies are now a matter of norm and practice in the interest of transparency and public awareness."
"Even premier investigating agencies such as the CBI have a duly appointed press spokesperson and press releases are issued from time to time and uploaded on the website," he pointed out, negating the premise of the EC in finding a violation of the code of conduct in the IG's actions. The IG's interview in question, when viewed in the right perspective, was clearly not in breach of the Model Code of Conduct, not politically motivated and made no political comment, the Chief Minister wrote in his letter.
"Rather, despite pointed political questions, Kuwar Vijay Pratap has in fact, specifically declined from answering such questions or comments," he added. Chief Minister Amarinder pointed out in his letter that the formation of the SIT had not been the political whim of the present Government but had a defined legal history.
The SIT was formed after a resolution in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha withdrawing the investigation from CBI and deciding to entrust it to a 5-member SIT. The Chief Minister further pointed out, in his letter, that Kuwar Vijay Pratap was not only a high ranking, decorated and senior officer but also a seasoned and responsible investigator, who had held crucial assignments through successive and different governments.
"Given his vast experience he is not likely to and has in fact, in the present case, not breached the Model Code of Conduct," said Singh. "As such, it is urged, that in the interest of justice and constitutional propriety and also the continued free and fair conduct of the investigation, the Election Commission may reconsider and review its decision dated 05.04.2019 to the extent that it ordered relieving of the said officer from his present post, as it would cause interference in an ongoing investigation," said Chief Minister Amarinder.
(With inputs from agencies.)