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SC Issues Notice To Punjab Government Over Anticipatory Bail Plea By Former-DGP Saini

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from Punjab government in connection with the anticipatory bail plea of former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini

Punjab

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the Punjab Government in connection with the anticipatory bail plea of the former director-general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in a case related to the alleged abduction and murder of a junior engineer, Balwant Singh Multani, in 1991.

The Apex court has also sought a response from Multani's brother who had lodged a complaint of custodial torture against Saini and six other officers earlier this year. Multani worked with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation before being arrested by Punjab Police in 1991 in connection with the Chandigarh Bomb blast.

The Chandigarh bomb blast and custodial death

The case pertains to the 1991 bomb blast in Chandigarh which Saini's advocate Mukul Rohatgi claimed was to assassinate Saini. The former DGP, who was then Chandigarh's Senior Superintendant of Police (SSP), was injured in the attack and three policemen were killed. The Police then picked up Multani after the bomb blast, who then lost his life in police custody.

Brother of Multani has slapped a case on Saini alleging torture meted out to Multani under the custody of Saini. Hence, the 1982-batch IPS officer was booked along with six others on May 6 this year for alleged kidnapping and wrongful confinement of Multani in 1991, among other charges.

In August, two co-accused became approver against Saini and claimed to be the witness of the torture meted out to Multani, after which a murder charge was added to the FIRs against Saini.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Saini contended that the interest of the Punjab government is evident in this case. "I will show you how gross and vindictive is its attitude," Rohatgi said. 

Saini is a highly decorated officer and has faced numerous death threats due to his participation in hundreds of operations against terror networks and has lodged five cases against Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Rohatgi said to prove Punjab Government's interest in Saini being behind bars.

Rohatgi also pointed out the FIRs being lodged against Saini after nearly 3 decades of the incident.

Saini retired in 2018 after 36 years of service, Multani's brother lodged an FIR against him and two other officers this year on May 5 on the charges of custodial torture in 1991 and Saini along with other accused got anticipatory bail on May 11 from sessions court, Rohatgi said.

"There can't be three FIRs in the same offence. This is the third FIR after 29 years...This is a case of political vendetta, after Saini retired," Rohatgi said. Saini has filed a plea to quash the FIRs against him.

"On August 29, 1991, the blast took place. During the investigation, it was found that Devendar Singh Bhullar, who is undergoing a life sentence, and Multani were involved in the case," claimed the plea.

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Speaking of the Multani death incident, Rohatgi said an FIR was registered in Chandigarh, Sector 17, and Balwant Multani was arrested in December 1991.

Rohatgi also said Punjab Government has no jurisdiction in the case as the alleged torture happened in Chandigarh which is a Union Territory.

"The state cannot add Section 302 to FIR without leave of the trial judge," he said.

Posting the matter for further hearing, the Bench advised the Punjab government not to proceed in the case for the time being.

(With ANI inputs)

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