In October 2010, the Mohali district court had asked the state of Punjab to proceed against three IPS officers for resiling as key witnesses, while acquitting the Badals in the disproportionate assets case.
More than three years on, the officers in question still enjoy the stay on the proceedings from the Punjab and Haryana high court. ADGP S Chattopadhyay, IG BK Uppal and now retired SSP Surinder Pal Singh had been part of the investigation wherein Surinder Pal was the investigation officer (IO) in the challan filed against chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy CM Sukhbir Badal, late Surinder Kaur Badal and others during the then Capt Amarinder Singh government in 2003.
The police officers had filed their appeals in the high court for the stay in December 2010, challenging the Mohali court order and also for quashing of the complaint that held them as accused on charges of perjury. Till date, the stay continues, as the case files have so far been enlisted with nine judges. On Friday, Justice Anita Chaudhry pronounced to pass on the hearing to another bench, after the counsel for Surinder Pal asked for another adjournment in his absence. The two other judges who had recused from hearing the appeals were Justice TPS Mann and Justice Sabina.
“Let the appeal be posted for hearing before another bench after obtaining appropriate orders from the chief justice,” stated Justice TPS Mann on March 27, 2014, in his interim order. Prior to this, Justice Sabina had opted to enlist the case before some other bench, seeking appropriate orders from the CJ on September 20, 2013.
The high court even availed the services of senior lawyers Ashok Aggarwal and then of Roshan Lal Batta as the amicus curiae in the case. The latter was present in the court on Friday.
The Badal government had appointed Aggarwal as the Punjab advocate general, that led him to quit as amicus curiae in November 2011, after which Batta held the position.
Aggarwal, who continues as the Punjab advocate general, has not made any submission in the court with regard to the appeals of the three officers.
“It is not appropriate for me to comment at this juncture, as I was the amicus curiae in the case before joining as the AG,” Aggarwal told HT, when asked why there has been no wording from Punjab challenging the appeals of the police officers.
Batta, when contacted, said, “I can say something only if the court asks me to do so.” He said any remarks or comments at this juncture would not be appropriate “in the absence of any action in the court”.
As the case crumbled
The Mohali special court of Rajinder Aggarwal, on October 1, 2010, had acquitted the Badals for “lack of evidence”, and asked Punjab to lodge a complaint in the court and then proceed against the aforesaid police officers for perjury.
The order had stated, “The case has crumbled down under the burden of the statements made by the prosecution witnesses. Such like case that fails on account of almost all prosecution witnesses’ turning hostile brings disrepute to the criminal justice system and shake the confidence of the public in the legal system. Therefore, it is obligatory for this court to undertake the exercise of finding out the persons responsible and to take action against them.”
It stated: “The case has failed on account of Surinderpal Singh, who investigated the case; and BK Uppal who supervised the investigation.
Tomorrow: Appeals of Surinderpal and BK Uppal