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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Bargari Sacrilege: Once handed over to CBI, probe can’t be withdrawn, court told

The CBI cited a 1994 SC judgment saying withdrawal of consent for investigation by it would not apply to cases wherein probe is pending.

punjab Updated: Aug 30, 2019 12:51 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Hindustan Times, Mohali
A police vehicle torched by anti-sacrilege protesters in Faridkot district’s Behbal Kalan village in October, 2015.
A police vehicle torched by anti-sacrilege protesters in Faridkot district’s Behbal Kalan village in October, 2015.(HT File )

Opposing the Punjab government’s revision petition seeking a certified copy of the closure report on the Bargari sacrilege case, the CBI on Thursday told a special court in Mohali that probe once handed over to it cannot be withdrawn in the absence of any statutory provision in the Delhi Special Establishment Act that governs the agency.

The agency cited a 1994 Supreme Court judgment in the ‘Lehendup Dorji vs CBI and others’ case that held that the withdrawal of consent for investigation by the CBI would not apply to cases wherein probe was pending.

The submission by CBI additional superintendent of police P Chakraborty came three days after the agency urged the court to keep in abeyance the report giving a clean chit to three Dera Sacha Sauda followers in the case. The reply was submitted to CBI special judge NS Gill in response to the Punjab government’s revision petition challenging the same court’s decision dismissing the application filed by additional inspector general (AIG litigation-crime) Sarabjit Singh on behalf of the state bureau of investigation director on July 23.

On July 4, the CBI filed a closure report in three cases of sacrilege — theft of a ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Wala village on June 1, 2015; putting up of hand-written sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25; and torn pages of ‘bir’ found at Bargari on October 12 .

The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had handed over the cases to the CBI in November 2015.

Accusing the state of “misinterpreting” and “wrongly concluding that it has not investigated the cases seriously”, the CBI while referring to the Punjab Haryana High Court order of January 25, 2019, dismissing petitions challenging “withdrawal of consent”, said, “there was no specific directions for the agency by the high court which debars it in continuation of the probe of these cases after withdrawing the consent by the state government”.

‘Only CBI can probe the case’

“It is only the CBI which can investigate and prosecute the case in the court constituted for conducting trial in these cases, if required. The state police has no authority to intervene in the investigations once Punjab handed over the investigation to CBI (sic),” said the agency in its submission to the court while opposing the argument that the state had withdrawn the notification on handing over the probe to it.

The agency said despite its efforts the sacrilege incidents remained “undetected” and a joint closure report was filed since all the three cases were “interlinked”.

On its August 26 application for keeping the closure report in abeyance, the CBI referred to a July 29 letter by special DGP-cum-director bureau of investigation Parbodh Kumar, requesting the agency to carry out the probe, citing some “unanswered angles”, including the role of foreign agencies and the two Pakistani numbers which were active in Bargari during the sacrilege incidents.

“Now consequent upon the receipt of certain new information/facts from special the DGP-cum-director, bureau of investigation, which needs to be investigated afresh (sic),” it said.

‘State has no locus standi in case’

Reiterating that the state had no locus standi, the CBI said, “Punjab government is neither the complainant nor the accused in these cases. Therefore, it is not entitled for a copy of closure report or to know the grounds for filing the same.”

“Once investigation of these three cases has been taken over by the CBI, the outcome of the same has only to be conveyed to the jurisdictional court,” the agency added.

The next date of hearing in the case is September 19.