Ranjit Singh murder case: HC dismisses plea for transfer of trial; says allegations imaginary

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking transfer of trial in Ranjit Singh murder case terming the allegations imaginary and based on surmises and conjectures
The HC bench observed that apprehension must be “reasonable and not imaginary”. The power of transfer is to be sparingly exercised. (Getty Images)
The HC bench observed that apprehension must be “reasonable and not imaginary”. The power of transfer is to be sparingly exercised. (Getty Images)
Published on Oct 06, 2021 12:38 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Chandigarh

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking transfer of trial in Ranjit Singh murder case terming the allegations imaginary and based on surmises and conjectures.

With this, trial court can now pronounce judgment, stayed two days ahead of final order on August 24 by the HC, in the case involving Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

“The petitioner (Ranjit’s son), in the garb of transfer petition, cannot be permitted to have bench of his choice or to get result of trial as per his wishes. With advancement of technology and activism on social media, the allegation levelled by such litigants needs to be scrutinised carefully. On asking of apprehensive litigant, transfer of trial at fag end would result in browbeating the judge and interference in fair administration of justice,” the bench of justice Avneesh Jhingan said in the 20-page judgment.

The plea filed in August by Jagseer Singh had sought directions for transfer of the case to any other court in the region.

The son had questioned adjournments granted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court a number of times since joining of the special judge and also levelled allegations against CBI public prosecutor KP Singh for “interfering” in the “administration of justice” and “influencing” the proceedings.

The HC bench observed that on mere apprehension trial cannot be transferred and that apprehension must be reasonable and not imaginary. The power of transfer is to be sparingly exercised.

There cannot be a straight jacketed formula for transfer of trial, it said, adding that the petitioner watched and participated in trial before special judge since April 2021, when he was transferred and has now approached the HC when the matter is reserved for final order.

Referring to the complaint made against the judge in some other case, the bench said no adverse inference can be drawn against the special judge as the affected party in that case was Enforcement Directorate, which has not raised any question.

Moreover, the bail in question was granted by his predecessor and he only confirmed that order.

As of the allegations of judges’ proximity with public prosecutor, the bench said allegations are on “hear-say”. The bench also took note of CBI terming the transfer of public prosecutor when judge too was transferred to Panchkula as “routine administrative decision” and petitioner not levelling allegations against CBI but against the public prosecutor.

The court also said the presence of public prosecutor in the court during trial is duly explained since he is a regular public prosecutor in CBI court at Panchkula and senior public prosecutor and a special public prosecutor have been specifically appointed to represent CBI in this case only.

The court also did not find any substance in the allegations that the CCTV footage of a particular date have intentionally not been sent.

As of allegations of the special judge showing undue hurry to conclude the trial, the court said there was no substance in the allegations as enough time was given to CBI counsels to present their side.

The special judge, in his report, had termed the plea as a “case of interference in the judicial process”, to which the petitioner’s lawyer had objected to.

“If the trial is transferred on the basis that filing of comments by the special Judge would affect the outcome of the trial, the trial of such pressure would not only end with the transfer but will proceed to the next judge also. Moreover, a judge is aware of the powers bestowed and how to conduct fair trial,” the bench observed rejecting the contention of the petitioner.

Ranjit Singh, a former follower of Ram Rahim, was shot dead by four assailants on July 10, 2002, at his native Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra.

As per the CBI, he was murdered as Ram Rahim suspected that he was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter highlighting sexual exploitation of female disciples on the Dera premises. The dera head is lodged in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail serving life term.

There are mainly three cases of the period 2002-03 registered against the Sirsa-based dera chief. In two cases, one related to sexual exploitation of female disciples and second of murder of a journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, Ram Rahim has been convicted. The third case is of Ranjit Singh’s murder.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2021