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Two decades of impunity: SCI set aside CBI probe against police officers accused of practising enforced disappearances

December 7, 2011 | By

New Delhi, India (December 07, 2011): The Supreme Court of India today quashed a Punjab and Haryana High Court order directing the CBI to investigate the enforced disappearance of three innocent Sikhs, including son of a former IAS officer and the father and uncle of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, in 1991.

A division bench of Justices B. S. Chauhan and A. K. Patnaik termed the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s single judge bench’s order as “erroneous”.

“It said the order directing the CBI probe caused greater injustice than the apparent attempt to dispense justice” Indian media sections, including Times of India (TOI), have reported the SC judges to have said.

Writing the judgement for the bench, Justice Chauhan said the HC order was an example of judicial inconsistency and allowed the appeals filed by the Punjab government and Sumedh Saini, who pleaded that there was apparent bias and perceivable ulterior motive behind the judgement directing the CBI probe against the much decorated police officer. The SC quashed the CBI FIR and brought to naught the probe done so far.

It is notable here that appellants had challenged the HC order directing CBI probe, but not the content and conclusions of probe conducted by CBI, still the judges of SCI failed to take notice of two decades old case of enforced disappearance of three persons, two of whom were Government’s Gazetted officers. However, the court said ‘the complainants were at liberty to initiate appropriate proceedings’ before prescribed forums.

Earlier, the Punjab government, led by Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and BJP, had argued before the court that “the state has in its possession some material that would suggest that the senior officer is being targeted due to the sensitive nature of investigation conducted by him against the judge”. It had submitted sealed envelopes to the court indicating that they contained the report of the investigation conducted by Saini when the concerned judge was still an advocate, TOI report added.

Following the investigation and clearance by the High Court the CBI registered had registered a criminal case against Sumedh Saini, chief of vigilance bureau of Punjab and some other police officers, including Chandigarh’s former SP (Operations) Baldev Singh Saini and SI Harshay Sharma and Jagir Singh, on July 4, 2008 the killing trio during enforced disappearance in 1991.

Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar is facing threat of execution in India as he was convicted on sole basis of statement extracted after torture in police custody. Supreme Court of India had confirmed the death sentence in a “split judgement”, with Presiding judge of three judges bench acquitting Professor Bhullar while two others confirming his death sentence.


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