Multani disappearance case: HC judge recuses from hearing Saini’s anticipatory bail plea
A Punjab and Haryana high court judge on Friday recused from hearing the anticipatory bail plea of former Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in the Balwant Singh Multani disappearance case.
The case was listed for hearing before the bench of justice Suvir Sehgal, which without recording any reason for recusal referred the matter to the chief justice for listing it before another bench. On September 2, another judge, justice Amol Rattan Singh, had recused from hearing the second petition of Saini seeking either quashing or transfer of the Balwant Singh Multani disappearance case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). That plea filed in August 19, is now listed for hearing for September 7. It is immediately not clear when bail plea of Saini will now be taken up by the high court.
“Right to hearing to an accused, which is a fundamental right, has been denied to an accused by successive recusals. Also other side (state) is appearing without any notice to them and interfering in the proceedings,” said senior advocate APS Deol, who is appearing for Saini hinting at ‘over anxiety’ from the state.
In both the petitions, the Punjab government has roped in two Supreme Court senior advocates, Sidharth Luthra and Harin Rawal, besides law officers from the advocate general office. Sartej Singh Narula, the special public prosecutor in the case before the Mohali court, too is appearing.
The additional district and sessions judge of Mohali had on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of the former DGP. It is against this order that Saini had approached the high court.
Saini was booked in May this year in connection with the disappearance of Balwant Singh Multani, a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (CITCO). Multani, a resident of Mohali, had been picked up by the police after a terrorist attack on Saini, the then senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh, in 1991.
Punjab Police on August 28 had conducted raids at Saini’s Chandigarh house and other locations but he could not be found. However, hours later on the same day, the Mohali court had extended Saini’s interim bail till the final orders on his anticipatory bail plea, subsequently dismissed on September 1.
Saini faces arrest as the court had on August 21 allowed Punjab Police to add the murder charge against him in this case after two former Chandigarh Police personnel, who were also co-accused in the case, turned approver.
The police had claimed that Multani escaped from custody at Qadian in Gurdaspur district. Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Multani’s brother, Palwinder Singh, who is a resident of Jalandhar.
Initially, the case was registered against them under Sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causes hurt) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Mataur police station in Mohali. In his plea, Saini says the first information report (FIR) is the result of mala fide act against him for launching probes against Congress leaders and their relatives to unearth scams due to which he had become an eyesore for political parties. He is demanding that the FIR be quashed or probe be transferred to the CBI.