Spell out steps for speedy trials of criminal cases against MPs/ MLAs: HC to DGPs
The high court also sought in the form of affidavits steps from directors of investigating agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation and National Investigation Agency within four weeks, while posting the matter for hearing on January 19
: The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Director Generals of Police (DGPs) of Haryana, Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh to spell out steps for speedy trials of criminal cases against sitting as well as erstwhile MPs and MLAs.
The high court bench of justice AG Masih and justice Vikram Aggarwal also sought in the form of affidavits steps from directors of investigating agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation and National Investigation Agency within four weeks, while posting the matter for hearing on January 19.
The court was hearing a 2021 suo motu plea in which it is monitoring probe into FIRs registered against MPs and MLAs in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh upon directions in this regard from the Supreme Court.
Referring to the status reports filed by different states and investigating agencies, the court observed that the status reports were not up to the expectation and the assurance which was given.
“Some movement is there in the name of progress as has been sought to be asserted, but the intent and purpose for which the monitoring is being carried out by this court is not only lacking but missing. Something needs to be done as far as the investigation of the matters is concerned,” the bench observed.
It further said that after the completion of the investigation, it appeared that the prosecution virtually is “shaking of its hands” as the focus on the status reports appears to be limited up to the extent of completion of investigation, but that should not be the purpose, for which when investigation is completed, should be left to the courts to proceed with the matter.
“No doubt, after that the proceedings are monitored and conducted by the court but non-appearance of the witnesses has been pointed out and observed to be a major course of delay in the trial. We would expect that the Director General of Police and Heads of the Departments of the Investigating Agencies give equal thought and importance to the trial as well,” the bench said, adding that officials and witnesses when called to appear as witnesses must be bound down to appear in courts giving it a priority over other duties and responsibilities which they have to perform.
Delaying the trial results is loss of not only the public time apart from the courts time, but also gives an opportunity to the accused to win-over the witnesses at times, it added.
It further added that winning over of witnesses could be a cause of concern, because the process of investigation if completed with sincerity loses its relevance when the cases are to be tried. Even the accused has to suffer because of delay as he continues to be having that stigma of an accused in the process till the final order is passed by the court, either convicting or acquitting him, the court said, asking DGPs to file affidavits spelling out steps being taken to expedite the investigation process and trials and ensuring the appearance of official as well as other witnesses.
102 cases pending trial in Punjab
In a report submitted by the litigation department of Punjab, it has been informed that there are a total of 102 cases, which are pending trial and 19 cases are such in which probe is pending. As per the report, oldest case pending investigation is an FIR registered in December 2017 of wrongful restraint and under sections of NH Act in Bhikli in which former MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder and two former MLAs Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh and Jagdeep Singh are accused.
The oldest case which is pending before the court is of March 1998 under Prevention of Corruption Act registered in Mohali against former MLA Brij Bhupinder Singh, in which untraced report has been filed.
A criminal intimidation case filed in 2007 against former MLA Jagdev Singh Kamalu at Maur police station in which untraced report has been filed is pending. Another case file under Prevention of Defacement Act in February 2007 at police station Behram against former MLA Tarlochan Singh Soondh is also pending, but cancellation report has been filed.
A criminal intimidation case filed in 2009 against former MLA Joginder Singh at Ferozepur Cantt is pending. A cancellation report has been filed in the case. An attempt to murder case filed in July 2009 at Ludhiana Sadar police station against former MLA Simarjit Singh Bains is also pending and trial in this case is underway.