Former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini.
Former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini.

Behbal Kalan firing: HC grants anticipatory bail to Saini, Umranangal

Observes that ex-DGP and suspended IGP’s custodial interrogation not required as challan has already been filed
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 12:12 AM IST

The Punjab and Haryana high court has granted anticipatory bail to former Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini and suspended inspector general of police (IGP) Paramraj Singh Umranangal in the 2015 Behbal Kalan firing case observing that their custodial interrogation is not required in view of challan already presented before a trial court.

Allowing their pleas, the bench of justice Raj Mohan Singh observed that initially, an FIR was registered against Charanjit Singh, former SSP Moga, and in second supplementary challan, four more accused were nominated. It was only in third supplementary challan the two were nominated. The third supplementary challan has been presented against them without associating them with the probe. Hence, their custodial interrogation is not required, it added.

The high court was dealing with pleas from Saini and Umranangal, filed last month after dismissal of the same by the sessions court. They were chargesheeted by the special investigation team (SIT) of Punjab Police on January 15, which led to their summoning by a trial court. The high court has now asked them to appear before a judicial magistrate on March 8 and directed that in the event of arrest, they be released on bail. The judgment was pronounced on Monday and detailed order released on Tuesday.

The court observed that they were nominated as accused without making them to join the probe. The only notice received by Umranangal in the context of joining the probe was of February 7, 2019, and in the case of Saini on September 20, 2019. Both the notices were prior to their nomination as accused and even prior to recording of an approver’s statement.

The court also took note of the fact that in second supplementary challan, it was stated that after completion of the investigation against the remaining accused, a challan would be presented and by that time, the duo had been already nominated as accused.

It further observed that when second inquiry commission report was submitted in the Vidhan Sabha, action taken report was also submitted proposing to proceed against the two departmentally. However, the court did not make any further observation adding that the “appropriate court” would consider the issue. The court also refrained from commenting on allegations of mala fide probe against the state levelled by the two.

Both are accused in the case registered on October 21, 2015, at the Bajakhana police station in Faridkot, a week after two protesters were killed allegedly in the police firing at Behbal Kalan in the aftermath of incidents of sacrilege reported at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala.

HC seeks response from govt

Meanwhile the high court sought response from Punjab government on a plea filed by Saini seeking quashing of chargesheet filed by Punjab Police in the Behbal Kalan firing case. The state has been given time till March 19 to respond on the plea.

The plea alleges “mala fide act” by the state adding that for five years, the probe did not find anything and suddenly now the name of Saini has cropped up in the investigations and he has been nominated as an accused in the FIR. “High court has issued notice of motion on the former DGP’s plea for March 19,” confirmed his counsel, Himmat Singh Deol.

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