2015 sacrilege cases: Centre wrote to state on transfer of probe to it in June 2019, Punjab tells HC
Chandigarh The Punjab government has told the Punjab and Haryana high court that in June 2019, the Centre had communicated to it about transferring the probe into 2015 sacrilege cases to the state police from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“.. as a matter of fact, a communication was addressed by the under secretary to the government of India, department of personnel and training, ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, on 28.06.2019, to chief secretary, government of Punjab, informing him that the matter was being taken up by the said ministry with the CBI itself, to transfer all evidence gathered by it to the Punjab Police, upon transfer of investigation to it (Punjab Police),” Punjab’s counsel, Harin P Rawal, told the bench of justice Amol Rattan Singh. He added this communication was marked to the CBI director as well. CBI counsel, on the other hand feigned ignorance about the communication and told court that he would check and apprise court on the adjourned date.
The submissions were made during resumed hearing of pleas from Sukhjinder Singh, and Shakti Singh, two Dera Sacha Sauda followers, who had questioned how two agencies are probing the same FIRs in parallel.
Two persons were killed in the violence reported after incidents of sacrilege in 2015. Three FIRs on incidents of sacrilege were recommended for a CBI probe in 2015, by then SAD government. Of these, the Captain Amarinder Singh government passed a resolution to withdraw two FIRs in August 2018. In the same resolution, it also withdrew two more FIRs related to violence, entrusted to the CBI, barely four days after the move. However, the CBI filed a closure report in July 2019 before a CBI court in Mohali; in December 2019, it reopened the probe in these FIRs, by then Punjab Police had started its probe.
The parallel probes are underway by CBI and Punjab police into these FIRs as the CBI maintains that with there being no de-notification issued by the Centre, these FIRs are still to be probed by it.
The court observed that in its opinion, as the Supreme Court has dismissed the CBI’s plea challenging high court order by which it had refused to interfere with the Punjab government decision to take back all sacrilege cases from the CBI, the high court ought to proceed further. However, the CBI told the court that a review petition has been filed by the agency against the January 25 order of the apex court; this plea is yet to be taken up.
The court also observed that the counsel for the parties would address, also, as to how investigations by two agencies in the same FIR, can continue simultaneously, when case is taken up on November 19.
Rawal also told the court that Sukhjinder had filed a transfer petition in apex court seeking transfer of the trial itself outside Punjab, and response from the state has been issued. However, the bench observed that since there is no ‘stay order’ it would continue with hearing.