Other States

HC judge recuses from hearing ‘missing’ ex-Punjab DGP’s bail plea

A judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday recused himself from hearing an anticipatory bail application moved by former Punjab Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini in connection with the case of disappearance and murder of a man in 1991.

Justice Suvir Sehgal, while recusing himself from the case, referred the matter to the Chief Justice for listing.

“The matter will now be put up before the Chief Justice for listing before another Bench,” Special Public Prosecutor Sartej Singh Narula told The Hindu.

‘Saini absconding’

Mr. Saini, who faces arrest in the wake of no interim protection order from the court, had absconded, leaving his security detail behind, the Punjab police said.

Amid an allegation by Mr. Saini’s wife that his had been withdrawn, a spokesperson of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case said there had been no change whatsoever in the security detail and the paraphernalia, including the security box and the jammer vehicle, provided to the former police chief, who is a ‘Z+’ category protectee of the State government.

“The fact was that Mr. Saini seemed to have left his Chandigarh residence without Punjab police security personnel and security vehicles, including the jammer vehicle, on his own, thus jeopardising his own security,” said the spokesperson.

Last week, the police raided Mr. Saini’s house besides other locations but could not find him. On September 1, his anticipatory bail application was dismissed by the additional district and sessions judge, Mohali, and it was against this order that he approached the High Court.

Murder charge

In May, on the basis of a fresh application by the victim’s (Balwant Singh Multani) brother Palwinder Singh Multani, the former DGP and six other accused were booked under Sections 364 (kidnapping or abduction in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causing hurt to exhort confession) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

Later, murder charge under Section 302 was added to the FIR, after two co-accused turned approvers. In their statement, they claimed to be eyewitnesses to the torture meted out to Balwant Multani, a former Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (CITCO) employee, under the custody of Mr. Saini, who was then Senior Superintendent of Police of Chandigarh.

In his complaint, Palwinder said Balwant was picked up from his then residence in Mohali on December 11, 1991, and taken to the police station at Sec 17 Chandigarh under the orders of Mr. Saini. Despite all efforts to secure his release, the family failed to get him back, due to the “terror and influence of Saini,” said the complainant, adding that it was after Mr. Saini’s retirement that they gathered the courage to resume their efforts to fight for justice. The police had claimed that Balwant escaped from custody at Qadian in Gurdaspur district.

Mr. Saini had separately approached the High Court seeking the quashing of the FIR and directions to declare the subsequent investigation against him by the police in the case as “non est.” In this case, earlier this week, Justice Amol Rattan Singh had recused himself from hearing the matter.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 8:46:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/former-punjab-dgp-sumedh-singh-saini-absconding-say-police/article32520248.ece

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