The Punjab and Haryana high court has been informed by the amicus curiae (friend of the court) that the Punjab government illegally appointed Sumedh Singh Saini as director general of police (DGP) despite itself granting his prosecution sanction earlier in a pending criminal case.
When the case came up for hearing before the division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on Wednesday, senior Supreme Court advocate KN Balgopal, the court-appointed amicus curiae, said, "The government can't attack its own decision. That is what the Supreme Court says."
He added, "The important question here is that the Punjab government is supporting a person for promotion as state DGP who is involved in a criminal case of abduction, against whom it only had granted prosecution sanction."
Submitting another important point in the case, he argued, "The state government never followed the mandatory "sealed cover procedure" for a pending criminal case during the conduct of departmental promotion committee (DPC) meetings for his (Saini's) promotions."
He stated that had the "sealed cover procedure" been followed, as per orders of the Supreme Court in the KV Janakiraman case, Saini could not have been promoted above the rank of inspector general of police as charges were framed against Saini by a special CBI court of Delhi in 2006 and the case is still pending in the court.
As per this procedure, whenever any charges are framed against a government officer, he cannot be promoted and while considering his right to promotion during the DPC meetings, his case file would be kept in a sealed cover till the pendency of the case. If the government officer is later exonerated, he can then be promoted as per recommendations of the DPC from the date when he was due for promotion with all consequential benefits.
During the course of arguments, when the court asked about the comments of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the case, advocate Sukdeep Singh Sandhu said, "He (Saini) is our accused in the (IPC's Section) 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) case and we had informed the state government about the developments from time to time." He added that it was the state's decision to promote Saini as DGP.
Balgopal also informed the court that though the state government had granted prosecution sanction under Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent to wrongfully confine person) of the IPC, under which the sentence is for seven years, but the court had later inserted section 364, where the maximum punishment goes up to life sentence. In both sections, the act of kidnapping is involved and the state government cannot deny it, he said.
Arguments of the case would continue on Thursday.
Senior advocate Balgopal had appeared in the Supreme Court for Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, an accused in the 1991 case of a car bomb blast which was intended to kill Saini, then senior superintendent of police (SSP), Chandigarh.
In the 1994-95 Ludhiana 'abduction and killing' case, the special CBI court in Delhi had chargesheeted Saini and other accused in 2006 under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code.