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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Bargari sacrilege: State urges Centre to hand over probe to Punjab Police

Punjab government has made a fresh bid, asking the Centre to return the probe in Bargari sacrilege cases of 2015 to state police or face the ‘contempt of court’ proceedings in Punjab and Haryana High Court.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 30, 2019 02:09 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
(Sameer Sehgal / HT File)

Amid firefighting going on between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Punjab government over closure report filed by the central agency in the Bargari sacrilege cases of 2015, the state government on Thursday made a fresh bid, asking the Centre to return the case to state police or face the ‘contempt of court’ proceedings in Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A letter in this regard was written by additional chief secretary (ACS), home, Satish Chandra, to the secretary, department of personnel and training (DoP&T) to denotify its November 4, 2015, notification on beginning probe into the sacrilege incidents. The case was handed over to the CBI by the previous SAD-BJP government.

“When CBI took over the case on November 4, 2015, and for three years, it did not give any information and report to Punjab with regard to the progress,” reads the letter.

Bringing forth the communication between the state and the Centre on this contentious issue , the ACS (home) stated that Punjab Vidhan Sabha through a resolution on August 28, 2018, decided to withdraw the cases from the CBI and the state government withdrew its consent for probe by the central agency on September 6, 2018.

“Next day, on September 7, the state wrote a letter to DoP&T to hand over the cases back to the state police, along with the evidence collected by the CBI,” it reads.

“A reminder was also sent on March 12, 2019, for denotifying the case. On June 26, 2019, the department of personnel, through a letter, informed the state that the matter was being taken up with the CBI. But the CBI did not transfer back the case and despite losing its powers to investigate the case, went on to file the closure report,” reads the letter.

The ACS (home) said despite request by the state to the CBI, copy of the closure report was not supplied to the state or police nor was intimation given to the state police about the grounds for filing the closure report.

The letter also mentions that DoP&T has been apprised that the notification on withdrawing case from the CBI was validated before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in CWP No. 23185/2018.

The High Court, after perusing the CBI case diaries, noted: “Besides, during the course of hearing, this court called for the case diary of the CBI and perused the same. It was evident that investigation in the cases had hardly made any headway…on a specific query being put to the CBI counsel about the status of the investigations despite lapse of almost three years, no clear answer was forthcoming.” Given the same, the court held, unequivocally “…this court does not feel the necessity to interfere in the decision of the state government to withdraw investigation from CBI…”

The said judgment was also not challenged by the CBI till date, the letter said.

The letter also blamed Union Government for delay in withdrawing the cases which led the CBI to continue with their investigations without making any headway in the probe. “The CBI should also return the files and the case diary. Non-return of cases by CBI to the state police may invite contempt of court vis-a-vis high court’s January 25, 2019, judgment ,” letter said.

First Published: Aug 30, 2019 01:23 IST

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