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28 Jul 2021, 04:00 HRS IST
  • PTI
  • SC grants interim protection from arrest to ex-Punjab DGP in 1991 murder case

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14:43 HRS IST

New Delhi, Sep 15 (PTI)
The Supreme Court Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to former Punjab SGP Sumedh Singh Saini in the 1991 case of alleged murder of a junior engineer Balwant Singh Multani.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah sought response from Punjab government on Saini's plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order refusing to grant him anticipatory bail in the case.

The bench posted the matter for hearing after four weeks and said that Saini is not to be arrested till further orders and he shall cooperate in the investigation.

During the hearing, the bench questioned the senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Punjab government that what is the hurry in arresting Saini after 29 years of the case.

Luthra replied that the former DGP having Z plus security is absconding.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Saini, said that he is a decorated officer who had suffered bullet injuries and risen from the ranks.

He said Saini was the Superintendent of Police who went on to become the state's DGP and did commendable service during Punjab militancy.

Rohtagi said Saini has retired now and had got anticipatory bail from the trial court judge and once the relief was granted, it should have continued till the end of the trial.

He said Saini had filed four FIRs against the present chief minister of the state but an officer like him should not have been hounded like this.

The senior lawyer said that this case pertains to the offence which allegedly took place 29 years ago and is the best case for grant of the anticipatory bail.

Luthra said Multani was picked up from his home and the complainant couldn't not muster courage to move to court for many years as the accused had been holding many important posts during those years.

He said that on December 13/14, 1991, Multani was tortured in police custody at Chandigarh and later an FIR was lodged against the victim at the behest of Saini.

The bench said that it is inclined to issue notice and know the response of the state government on the plea.

The top court said that counter be filed in two weeks and rejoinder affidavit be filed in one week thereafter and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.

On September 8, the high court had dismissed Saini's two pleas including the one on anticipatory bail in the alleged murder case.

Besides an anticipatory bail plea in the matter, Saini had also filed a petition in the high court seeking either quashing of the case or transfer of the matter to the CBI.

Saini was booked in May in connection with the disappearance of Multani in 1991 when he was working as a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation.

Saini had approached the high court after a Mohali court dismissed his bail plea in this case on September 1.

The Punjab police on September 3 had claimed that Saini had absconded while denying his wife's claims of withdrawal of his security cover.

A Mohali court had on August 21 allowed the Punjab police to add a murder charge against him in this case. This came after two former Chandigarh police personnel, former UT police Inspector Jagir Singh and former ASI Kuldeep Singh, who are also co-accused, turned approver in the case.

Multani, who was a resident of Mohali, was picked up by police after a terrorist attack on Saini, who was then the senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh, in 1991.

However, the police had later claimed that Multani had escaped from police custody of Qadian police in Gurdaspur.

Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Balwant Multani's brother, Palwinder Singh Multani, who is a resident of Jalandhar.

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.

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