The Indian Express – Extra-judicial killings: HC orders expeditious trial of Punjab cops

Centre’s sanction for prosecution not needed at inception of trial, says court

Sofi Ahsan

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 4 January 2018. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered expeditious trial of Punjab policemen accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings during militancy days in the state in the 1990s.

Upholding the trial court order, HC said that Centre’s sanction for prosecution of police officers accused of alleged fake encounters in Punjab would arise only after the prosecution had presented its evidence, and not at the initial stage of trial.

The High Court ordered the trial court to proceed “expeditiously and frame a schedule for recording evidence of prosecution at the earliest”.

In the 77-page judgment on 27 petitions involving nearly 50 police officials, Justice Surinder Gupta rejected the Punjab government’s contention that the police officials had risked their lives to bring out the state from a grave situation during ‘90s and “now prosecuting for the act done by them during discharge of their duties will affect morale of police force”.

The petitioners had cited Section 6 of the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act or Section 197 of CrPC in support of their contention that sanction for prosecution was required for the initiation of trial.

“After filing of chargesheet in these cases a long period has lapsed and the prosecution evidence is yet to start. It is neither in the interest of prosecution nor petitioners that sword of prosecution keeps on hanging over their heads for such a long period.

The trial court is directed to proceed further in the matter expeditiously and frame a schedule for recording evidence of prosecution at the earliest and then to allow petitioners to lead defence evidence, if required, in support of their plea,” the final order read.

Most of the cases relate to the 1990s, and were handed over to CBI for investigation. The CBI found the encounters to be fake and staged.

In 2001, when the chargesheet was filed in the cases in the CBI special court at Patiala, the accused policemen raised the objection saying there is no sanction order for their prosecution from the Centre.

They approached the High Court, which even at that time, dismissed their plea, after which they approached the Supreme Court.

The apex court sent the case back to the trial court for a “fresh look”, but in 2016, the trial court held its ground and ordered that it would look into the question of sanction at a later stage, after assessing the evidence against the officers.

The officials again approached the High Court against the trial court order, which had been under stay since 2016, and seeking discharge of the cases against them. That stay ended on December 20, and the High Court’s order was made public today.

Justice Gupta, in his order, has observed that the prosecution has to be allowed the opportunity to present evidence and the trial court can decide the question of legal sanction only after that.

“It is only after conclusion of evidence of prosecution that the court on the basis of defence evidence or the material placed on record can come to the conclusion as to which version i.e of prosecution or the defence is correct and then decide as to whether sanction for prosecution is required or not,” the order said.

It further added: “Honourable apex court observed that question of sanction should be dealt with at the stage of taking cognizance, but this question may arise at any stage of proceedings and in some cases, it may not be possible to decide the question effectively and finally without giving opportunity to defence to adduce evidence.

In such cases, question of good faith and bad faith be decided on conclusion of trial.”

CBI counsel Sumeet Goel had informed the High Court that the cases had been registered following the orders of the apex court and High Court on the “matter of cremation of large number of unclaimed dead bodies by Punjab Police” and the police action “in no manner could be termed as act performed as per spirit of legal provisions” on self-defence and the immunity guaranteed to the police officials from prosecution without the permission of central government.

Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda during the hearing of the case had supported and endorsed the submission of the counsels representing the accused police officials and said, “Sanction for prosecution is an issue, which is to be looked into at the inception of trial and not at later stage”.

Extra-judicial killings: HC orders expeditious trial of Punjab cops


The Tribune – Attack on Sena ex-leader: Case shifted to NIA court

Jaswant Shetra, Tribune News Service

Ludhiana-Panjab-India, 3 January 2018. The case of attack on former Shiv Sena leader Amit Arora has been shifted to the court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Mohali.

The NIA team investigating the cases related to targeted killings has filed an application in the court of judicial magistrate Sushil Bodh.

The next hearing of the case has been fixed for January 16. The Ludhiana police have also filed an application seeking to retain the investigation of the case.

Meanwhile, Amit Arora appeared before the court and recorded his statement in the case registered against him for faking an attack on himself for getting security cover.

Arora, who was allegedly shot at by assailants on 3 February 2016, was booked by the Ludhiana police in June 2016 for allegedly staging the attack on himself.

Arora told the court that the police have implicated him in the case. “Some radical groups have also been threatening me after I was released from jail. But fearing action, I did not approach the local police,” Arora said.

While booking Arora, the police had claimed that he had faked the attack on himself to get security cover. After the case was registered against him, Shiv Sena expelled him from the party. Arora is presently a member of Shiv Sena Hind.

The claim made by the police was exposed when targeted killings-accused Ramandeep Singh and Hardeep Singh Shera confessed that they had opened fire at Amit Arora. The confession by Ramandeep Singh and Hardeep Singh Shera made the police probe into the case appear shaky.

Gent: Gurdwara and De Lijn Trams

Gent Gurdwara
26 November 2017

Kavishiri Jatha

Sadh Sangat

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

Gent, De Lijn Trams
26 November 2017

Tram 1 to Flanders Expo via Sint-Pieters

Tram 1 to Flanders Expo

Tram 1 to Wondelgem / Evergem

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

DNA India – Son of former president of Chief Khalsa Dewan commits suicide

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 3 January 2018. Inderpreet Singh Chadha, the son of former president of charitable-cum-educational body Chief Khalsa Dewan Charanjit Singh Chadha, on Wednesday committed suicide in Amritsar, police said.

Police Commissioner S S Srivastava said Inderpreet killed himself with his licensed weapon inside his SUV at DR Enclave colony, near the Shri Guru Ramdas international airport, where he had gone to meet some relatives.

Immediately after the incident, he was moved to a nearby private hospital, where he was declared brought dead, he said.

Earlier, Inderpreet was booked for criminal intimidation along with his father and had secured anticipatory bail. He joined police investigation on Tuesday.

Inderpreet was also the vice president of Chief Khalsa Dewan but was removed from the trust along with his father.

Charanjit Singh Chadha was removed by the trust members after a purported objectionable video clip of his with a female principal had appeared.

He had described video as “concocted” and “manufactured”, but was booked under relevant sections of the law after the principal filed a police complaint, alleging Chadda pressured him into the “immoral act” threatening to get her removed from the job.

Dawn – Kulbhushan Jadhav not alone

Jawed Naqvi

Op/Ed, 2 January 2018. IT is possible that Kulbhushan Jadhav will go home free in 2018. It is possible that the Pakistan government has other plans for the convicted man, spy or no spy.

All countries spy on each other. Israel spies on the US and the US spied on the German chancellor.

The CIA woman who walked away with a flash drive full of top secrets from an inaccessible alcove of Indian intelligence should be enjoying premature retirement, resting on her laurels in Hawaii or some such happening place.

The US has also hosted the RAW agent who deserted his post. Has that stopped Indian nationalists from clamouring to sit in Donald Trump’s lap?

Indians and Pakistanis are perhaps the only countries that would beat up each other’s suspected spies or, in some instances, even rough up diplomats accredited to their capitals.

A Pakistani diplomat L K Advani threw out over charges of spying, falsely, according to Indian diplomats, returned to visit Delhi as his country’s foreign secretary, and he continued to party with his Indian friends on both sides of the border.

Jadhav was caught red-handed if that is what happened. It is hardly unlikely that India has not pounced on one of Pakistan’s intelligence men, which some say has indeed happened, in Nepal.

If an accident doesn’t occur, this could be a fit case for a swap though we may never know of it, somewhat like Rudolf Abel’s release for Gary Powers. A Steven Spielberg fan in Bollywood may then consider an Indian sequel to the Bridge of Spies, a story told so delicately about the US-Soviet spy exchange at the height of the Cold War.

When the Indian media and parliament were berating Pakistan over the Jadhav meeting, they were being blind to how they approach their own prisoners.

Neither of the two possibilities confronting Jadhav would erase the bitter memories that my friend and fellow journalist Iftikhar Gilani carries in his heart since the fateful day in 2002 when he was arrested for several months on fictitious charges of spying. He was to be released just as inexplicably.

Nor will it undo the damage done to the fragile child that Ghalib was when his father Afzal Guru was hanged on a cold morning without the courtesy of informing his wife.

I stand firmly with the Indian critics, civilians, media analysts and MPs alike, who have slammed Pakistan for not letting Jadhav embrace his wife and mother, and for not allowing him to speak in Marathi.

The difference is that I also stand with Guru’s wife who was denied a last meeting with her husband, and son who was too small to tell the difference.

When the Indian parliament was berating Pakistan for its omissions and commissions with the Jadhav meeting, and when Indian TV channels were going ballistic about the event, they were being blind to exactly how they approach their own prisoners.

A 90 per cent crippled teacher from Delhi University is lodged in a despicable condemned men’s cell in Nagpur because he is suspected of being a Maoist. Saibaba believes he won’t come out alive.

Does one remember how vehemently Arun Shourie the journalist, before he became a politician, fought for Kehar Singh, the Sikh arbitrarily executed as a conspirator in Indira Gandhi’s assassination?

Do we care that Indira Gandhi hanged Maqbool Bhat years after he was tortured and turned into a vegetable in Tihar jail?

But Jadhav’s partisans, and I consider myself one, being an opponent of the death penalty, should read Gilani’s harrowing stories from Tihar jail in his excellent notebook of the incarceration published as My Days in Prison.

Thursday, 20 June 2002, was Gilani’s fourth day at the jail. Nobody had come for mulaqat (visit) to see him. He was worried. He did not have proper clothes and was wearing the shirt drenched in human faeces, with which he had cleaned the toilet. He went to the social welfare officer and told him the matter.

The social welfare officer was appointed to look after the welfare of the inmates. Counselling first-time inmates and informing their families was one of the important functions of the officer.

The social welfare officer Sanjay Kumar told him that his wife had also been arrested and he should forget about the mulaqat. Someone should pass this chapter over to irate BJP and Congress MPs.

In the evening, a munshi came calling and asked Iftikhar to accompany him to the deodhi (entrance). He told my friend that his wife Aanisa had come and led him to the mulaqat room.

“The system of mulaqat is another horrendous indictment of our prison system as far as the human dignity is concerned,” Iftikhar Gilani records in the book. “There is a small hall-type room specifically meant for mulaqat.

This room has built up enclosures having brick walls up to around three feet height and the rest of the height is covered by the grills and meshes. The inmates and their visitors have to talk to each other in a standing position.

“The room does not have ventilation sufficient enough for almost 200 people present in every mulaqat session. At one time, authorities allow 60 prisoners to see their near and dear ones for half an hour.

On the other side of the meshed grills, on an average two to three persons visit one prisoner. They are almost two feet apart with thick mesh of double grills and wires parting them.”

The description of Gilani’s meeting with his wife would perhaps make Jadhav cry.

“I saw Aanisa. She was looking tired and pale. It was extremely frustrating not to be able to talk to her without the barriers. It was very difficult to see her under the watchful eyes of my tormentors.

I could see Aanisa was also under great anxiety … Just getting to jail was difficult, and added to that was the incontestable humiliation at the hands of the jail staff she had to contend with.”

Need one say more?

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi