On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reserved its orders in a plea by former Director General of Police (DGP), Punjab, Sumedh Singh Saini seeking anticipatory bail in relation to the 1991 disappearance and murder case of Balwant Singh Multani.
After hearing the arguments from senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi for Saini and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, representing Punjab Government, a three-judge bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah said it would pass a reasoned order.
Rohatgi told the court that the case was registered against Saini because he was investigating cases against the then-chief minister of the State. “There is no material except self-serving statements by accused who are similarly placed and even they were granted anticipatory bail,” said Rohatgi.
Rohatgi submitted that the illegal and malicious prosecution of his client should be stopped as one case after another was filed in the case and the root of the problem is that he had filed five criminal cases against the current Chief Minister of the state.
Meanwhile, the Court raised questions as to how Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code was added against the accused and under what law the State approached the magistrate to do so.
On the other hand, Rohatgi argued that the Punjab government had no jurisdiction in the instant case, as the alleged torture occurred in Chandigarh.
Earlier on 15th September, the top court had granted interim protection from arrest to Saini, in a plea challenging the 7th September order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had dismissed his anticipatory bail plea. The court further asked the Punjab government about its ‘hurry’ to arrest Mr. Saini in a case dating back to 1991.
Meanwhile, Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the State of Punjab contended that anticipatory bail at this stage would hamper the probe against Saini and requested the Court to allow him to place the investigation details in a sealed cover.
The Disappearance and Murder of Balwant Singh Multani
In 1991, Balwant Singh Multani, a resident of Mohali was picked up after a terror attack on the then senior superintendent of police Sumedh Saini that killed three policemen, in Chandigarh. Multani was severely injured in the attack. The police later claimed that Multani had escaped from custody at Qadian in Gurdaspur district and later disappeared. However, Multani’s father has alleged that his son was tortured by Saini and others. Later, Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Balwant Singh Multani’s brother Palwinder Singh Multani, a resident of Jalandhar.
A murder charge was recently added to the case after two of the accused policemen in the case turned approvers. An FIR was registered against Saini on the basis of a complaint by Multani’s family, under Sections 302 (murder), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 201 (causing the disappearance of evidence of offense), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causes hurt) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Mataur police station in Mohali. It was alleged that Multani was killed in the State-managed elimination around the month of December 1991.
On the other hand, Saini is also facing trial in a Special CBI Court in Delhi along with three others, for alleged kidnapping and the disappearance of automobile businessman Vinod Kumar, his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and their driver Mukhtiyar Singh in 1994.