Punjab cabinet gives nod to new SIT in Kotkapura police firing
Amid growing criticism of the state government’s handling of the sacrilege cases from within the Congress, the Punjab council of ministers on Monday decided to set up a new special investigation team (SIT) to probe the Kotkapura firing case in compliance of the order of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The council of ministers, which met here under the chairmanship of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, took the decision to set up the fresh SIT to avoid any further delay in the matter, pending an appeal in the Supreme Court. “The appeal may be filed in due course in consultation with legal experts, particularly with regard to the observations and conclusion of the court which were beyond its remit and even, at times, beyond the law,” it said.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who was part of the discussions on the matter and later briefed the reporters, said the cabinet reiterated its commitment to bring the culprits of the sacrilege incidents and subsequent police firing incidents to justice expeditiously. “There was no discussion on the composition of the SIT,” Jakhar said after the meeting when asked if any names of police officers for the new probe team were discussed.
The high court had on April 9 quashed the chargesheets filed by the Punjab Police SIT in the 2015 Kotkapura firing case, pointing out serious gaps in the investigation. It has also directed the Punjab government to constitute a new SIT, minus the then inspector general of police Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who has opted for voluntary retirement from service since. The court, in its 89-page judgment, had said fairness of investigations stands vitiated.
The legal setback in the politically sensitive case triggered immediate demands from within the Congress, particularly by dissenters such as former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, who also blamed the chief minister and his legal team for the fiasco.