Sumedh Singh Saini's appointment as director general of police (DGP) in Punjab is again under legal scrutiny, as the Punjab and Haryana high court's April 11 judgment upholding it has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Saini was appointed DGP on March 15 last year by the SAD-BJP government, in spite framing of charges against him by a Delhi CBI court in 2007 in a case of wrongful confinement and disappearance of two Punjab businessmen in 1995.
The special leave petition filed by SAS Nagar resident Simranjit Singh, director of non-government organisation (NGO) Voices for Freedom, challenging the high court's judgment came up for hearing before the Supreme Court on Friday.
The same NGO had challenged the appointment earlier in the high court.
But the division bench comprising justices RM Lodha and Madan B Lokur ordered to disassociate the petitioner from the case, as was done by the high court, since the petitioner had not challenged high court's order of deleting him from the array of parties in the petition.
"However, looking to the serious issue involved in the special leave petition, we direct the registry of this court to send the entire paper book of the special leave petition to the secretary, Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC)," ordered the bench.
It further said: "The secretary, SCLSC, shall examine the impugned judgment thoroughly and if she feels that the judgment requires challenge before this court, then liberty is granted to the SCLSC to file special leave petition at the earliest."
Grounds of appeal
The petitioner has raised the question as to whether a police officer facing trial before a designated special CBI court under Section 364 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for kidnapping or abducting with the intent to murder, which is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment, can be promoted as DGP?
It has been submitted that the Supreme Court, while deciding the case "Centre for PIL and ANR versus the Union of India and ANR" in 2011 regarding the appointment of PJ Thomas as chief vigilance commissioner had held: "if the selection adversely affects institutional competency and functioning, then it shall be the duty of the High Powered Committee not to recommend such a candidate."
A question has also been raised as to whether the state government itself after granting sanction for prosecution in the same case where Saini was facing charges (consequent to which the trial court had taken cognizance of the offence and commenced trial) was entitled to support him in relation to same case at the time of his promotion?