Though the Court asked the Punjab government to withdraw the case, the State submitted that it would make a statement on the next date of hearing.
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Punjab government in the anticipatory bail plea filed by former Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in the 1991 Balwant Singh Multani murder case (Sumedh Singh Saini v. State of Punjab & Ors).
Appearing for Saini, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the case against his client was the result of a political vendetta, as the former DGP had lodged cases against current Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Rohatgi said,
“There cannot be third FIR in the same incident. Supreme Court had also recorded that second FIR cannot be registered. There is no material apart from a self-serving statement by an accused similarly placed who was granted anticipatory bail. This is a case of political vendetta.”
Narrating the facts of the case, Rohatgi said,
“There was a bomb blast in 1991 in Chandigarh and the idea was to assassinate Saini. FIR was registered in Chandigarh Sector 17. Balwant Multani was arrested in December ’91. It is the case of Multani’s father that Multani was tortured by the petitioner. It was the case of the State that Multani escaped and was never found. He was not seen since 1991.”
Rohatgi then argued that a fresh FIR was registered against Saini on May 6, 2020. He added,
“On May 5, Multani’s brother filed an FIR saying he was scared till petitioner was DGP. He says in 2015, one police officer had revealed that Saini was torturing people. But he kept quiet and filed complaint only in May 2020. Police records that the Supreme Court verdict is only a technical aspect of the case. Thus, FIR was registered against Saini and two other officers who had allegedly tortured Multani in 1991. My client gets anticipatory bail by a detailed judgment on May 11, 2020 by Sessions Court.”
The FIR was filed on the basis of the statements of two police officers who were granted anticipatory bail along with Saini as they turned police approvers.
Rohatgi today complained that further cases were being registered against Saini, with the latest one in Faridkot for a firing that happened when he was a Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Chandigarh.
Roahtgi further stated that the Punjab government had no jurisdiction in the case, as the alleged torture was in Sector 17 of Chandigarh, which is a union territory.
“State cannot add Section 302 to FIR without leave of trial judge,” Rohatgi added.
Though the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and Subhash Reddy asked the Punjab government to withdraw the case, the State submitted that it would make a statement on the next date of hearing.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing the State of Punjab, sought three weeks’ time to file a reply.
The case will now be heard after four weeks.
During the previous hearing, Rohatgi submitted that his client was a decorated officer who rose through the ranks during the height of militancy in Punjab. He claimed that the Punjab government was after Saini because he had filed two chargesheets in which current Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh was named.
Earlier, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, opposing the bail plea, had contended that Rohatgi was attributing motives to the judge that rejected Saini’s bail plea. He went on to state that the High Court had noted that Saini misused his powers.
“Court had noted that a person had succumbed to his injury after he was inhumanly treated by the applicant…after his retirement, the accused still has the audacity and power to have some files in his control. How can this be allowed?”
Saini has challenged the Punjab & Haryana High Court’s September 7 order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in the Multani kidnapping and murder case.
The Apex Court is also in receipt of a caveat from the Punjab Police to pre-empt Saini from getting any ex-parte relief.
Multani, a junior engineer with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation, was allegedly picked up by the police in December 1991 after an attack on Saini that killed three policemen. Saini was injured in the attack.
In May this year, Saini was booked at a police station in Mohali along with six others for the alleged kidnapping of Multani in 1991. A murder charge was added in August after two of the accused policemen came clean about the incident.
Saini also faces a trial before a Special CBI Court in Delhi for the alleged abduction of automobile businessman Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar, and their driver Mukhtiyar Singh.
While Vinod and Mukhtiyar were picked up by the police from the parking lot of the Punjab & Haryana High Court on March 15, 1994, Ashok was allegedly abducted from Ludhiana the same day.