A Punjab and Haryana high court bench on Friday proposed to hear Bholath legislator and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur’s appeal in a case related to her daughter’s killing during the summer vacation.
The bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram asked the CBI, a respondent in the matter, to file its response on Monday.
“Why have hearing on an application. I’m ready to decide the appeal. Let us fix a date during the summer vacation,” justice Saron said, asking the CBI counsel and Kaur’s lawyer whether they were ready with their arguments. Justice Saron is the senior-most judge after the acting chief justice, SJ Vazifdar at the high court.
In March 2012, Kaur was convicted of forcible abortion of her daughter’s child, wrongful confinement, abduction, criminal conspiracy and was sentenced to five-year imprisonment by a CBI court in Patiala.
The HC had granted her bail in November 2012. Kaur had sought suspension of the sentence to do campaigning for the upcoming 2017 Punjab elections and contest as appeal would take some time to decide.
She had reasoned that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) required her to campaign across the state and she was also likely to contest. As she was not competent to contest due to conviction, she appealed that her sentence be suspended during the pendency of the main appeal.
During the hearing, when both counsels — from the CBI as well as from the petitioner’s side — appeared reluctant and one of them stated that “all counsels in the case might not be available (during vacation period),” justice Saron questioned the CBI as to why it was opposing the suspension of Kaur’s sentence when it had problems in arguing the matter.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either you argue or withdraw the application,” the bench categorically told the CBI counsel asking him to take instructions by May 9.
The pendency of cases in courts and measures thereof are being hotly debated nationwide. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently advocated for reducing vacation time in courts. Chief justice of India TS Thakur ---though not averse to the idea --- had defended judges taking a break in summers stating that holidays were necessary to “keep sanity”. The total pendency of cases in the high court is 2.97 lakh.