Hearing a public interest litigation challenging the appointment of Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the state government to bring on record details mentioning the complete procedure adopted in the DGP's selection.
The bench, during resumed hearing of a petition filed by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Voices for Freedom, questioned the counsel representing the state government as to why complete details of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) were not put on record.
The petitioner NGO had submitted that in the 1994-95 Ludhiana "abduction and killing" case, the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court, Delhi, had in 2006 chargesheeted Saini and other accused under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code, and the trial was still pending in the court. Hence, Saini should not have been appointed DGP, the petitioner argued.
About repeated questions raised by the bench on whether Saini was on the rank of DGP or ADGP when he was considered for promotion to the post of state police chief, the state counsel informed the bench that Saini was already the DGP at the time of selection.
On this, the bench stated that nowhere in the petition or affidavits filed by the state was it mentioned and that the bench could not pass orders unless the selection details were brought on record.
The bench also directed the state government to inform as to how many officers were considered for the post of state police head, what was the criterion adopted, what was the opinion of the DPC and whether facts of the 1994-95 case were brought to the notice of the DPC.
However, arguing for the petitioner, senior Supreme Court advocate KN Bal Gopal asserted that in view of the Supreme Court's judgment in the PJ Thomas case, who was appointed chief vigilance commissioner by the Centre despite his involvement in the Palmolein import case of Kerala, Saini could not be appointed DGP.
The apex court had quashed Thomas' appointment to the post on the basic grounds of "institutional integrity", he said. He also told the court that even Section 6 of the Punjab Police Act put an embargo on Saini's continuance on the post.
Countering allegations levelled against the NGO about supporting militants and radicals, the senior advocate stated that the NGO had no links with such people and the state government had failed to establish the facts.
He stated that on the one hand, the state government was linking the NGO with Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the assassination case of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, but on the other, the chief minister was favouring the appeal for Rajoana's clemency.
The case would now come up for hearing on July 31.