The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed the CBI case against Punjab’s vigilance bureau chief Sumedh Singh Saini for alleged fake encounter killings of three persons in 1991, including Balwant Singh Bhullar and Manjit Singh, father and maternal uncle respectively of death row convict Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar.
At the time of the said fake encounters, in 1991, Saini was the Senior Superintendent of Police Chandigargh and it was alleged the victims were eliminated at his instance.
A Bench comprising justice BS Chauhan and justice AK Patnaik also expressed displeasure at the Punjab and Harayana High Court bench for displaying "bias" in entertaining the plea for a CBI probe by Bhullar several years after the encounters.
"The order impugned has rightly been challenged to be a nullity at least on three grounds, namely, judicial bias, want of jurisdiction by virtue of application of the provisions of Section 362 Cr.P.C. coupled with the principles of constructive res judicata and the Bench had not been assigned the roster to entertain petitions under Section 482 Cr.P.C.
"The entire judicial process appears to have been drowned to achieve a motivated result which we are unable to approve of. The impugned orders challenged herein are declared to be nullity and as a consequence, the FIR registered by CBI is also quashed," Justice Chauhan said writing the judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement upholding the appeals filed by Punjab government and Saini, challenging the HC orders.
Saini had challenged the 2007 HC orders, contending they were passed by reopening a case already disposed off in his favour on the basis of fresh petitions from Multani and Bhullar who had petitioned from Delhi's Tihar Jail.
It was submitted that the HC could not have entertained the petitions 16 years after the alleged incidents had taken place.
Agreeing with the argument, the apex court said an inherent power vested in the courts to entertain appeals and petitions "is not an omnibus for opening a pandora's box."
"The invoking of the power has to be for a purpose that is connected to a proceeding and not for sprouting an altogether new issue.
"A power cannot exceed its own authority beyond its own creation. It is not that a person is remediless. On the contrary, the constitutional remedy of writs are available
"CBI cannot be directed to have a roving inquiry as to whether a person was involved in the alleged unlawful activities," the apex court said.
Balwant, son of retired IAS officer Darshan Singh Multani, was the third person who had allegedly been eliminated at the instance Saini.
Balwant and Bhullar had been the accused in the abortive assassination bid on Saini on August 29, 1991 in which three security personnel had been killed. While Bhullar was acquitted in this case, he was sentenced to death for masterminding the 1991 bomb attack on the then Youth Congress chief MS Bitta in Delhi in which 9 security personnel were killed.