Punjab Congress chief and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has demanded the removal of the state's Director-General of Police, following the leakage of a letter from a Supreme Court judge saying the police officer had falsely accused High Court judges of corruption.
“This was clear intimidation of the judiciary”, Mr Amarinder Singh said on Thursday.
Justice Tirath Singh Thakur's letter, first reported by The Hindu on Tuesday, suggests that Mr Saini fabricated wiretap evidence against some judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court because one of them had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigations enquiry against him.
Mr Amarinder Singh alleged that the wiretaps were designed to embarrass retired High Court judge Mahtab Singh Gill, who had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigations probe against the police officer.
In 2007, Justice Gill admitted applications by a Khalistani terrorist on death row for a bomb attack, and the father of another suspected terrorist, directing the CBI to investigate their complaints that Mr Saini was involved in extrajudicial executions. Habeas corpus complaints about the missing individuals had earlier been dismissed by other courts.
The matter reached the Supreme Court, where the Punjab government pleaded that Justice Gill ought have recused himself from the matter, since Mr Saini had conducted an earlier enquiry in the infamous jobs for cash scandal in 2002 against him on the directions of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Last December, a bench of Justices BS Chauhan and AK Patnaik passed severe strictures against Justice Gill, saying: “The path charted by the High Court inevitably reflects a biased approach. It was a misplaced sympathy for a cause that can be termed as being inconsistent to the legal framework.” “The High Court”, Justices Chauhan and Patnaik said, was swayed away by considerations that are legally impermissible and unsustainable.” The CBI investigation was quashed. These strong observations created ripples in Punjab legal circles.
Even as these proceedings were underway, Mr Saini-then heading the Punjab Vigilance Bureau-submitted a report in 2008, to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice, alleging that some High Court judges were engaged in corrupt activities. The report was based on wiretaps of two persons. One of the judges whose name figures in the report is Justice Gill.
Mr Saini, a highly-decorated police officer who played a key role in fighting Khalistan terrorists, also had an earlier run-in with Justice Gill. In May 2002, Mr Saini, who was then the Inspector General of Police in charge of Intelligence, was tasked on the instructions of then-Chief Justice AB Saharya, to enquire into allegations that some sitting judges of the High Court are involved in seeking jobs from their kin from the chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Ravi Sidhu.
Justice Saharya withdrew work from three judges, one of who was Justice Gill. He was not only indicted for influencing the selection of two candidates, but also assuring ‘judicial relief’ to his childhood friend Mr Sidhu. Justice Saharya also noted that “aspersions that investigation was being misdirected to cover up his [Justice Gill’s] involvement in the recruitment racket cannot be brushed aside.”
Two days before Justice Saharya withdrew work from the judges, however, the entire investigating team of the Punjab Police was transferred out. Justice Gill was eventually let off with a warning. Mr Sidhu was sentenced for his role in the Punjab Public Service Commission scam.