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Validity of Justice Ranjit Singh panel under HC lens

September 14, 2018 05:43 AM


Validity of Justice Ranjit Singh panel under HC lens


The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday stayed action against three Punjab police officers who were booked for firing at protesters after they were named in the Justice Ranjit Singh commission’s report on sacrilege cases in Punjab.

Challenging the validity of the commission, the petitioners have sought directions to set aside its report as well as the report of the Justice Zora Singh commission which was set up in 2015 to investigate the same issues. The court issued notice to the Punjab government seeking its reply on the contentions of the petitioners.

The development is significant given that there is a likelihood of more people, indicted by the Ranjit Singh commission, approaching the court and asking for similar relief.

Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain granted the stay on a plea by former Moga SSP Charanjit Sharma, former Mansa SSP Raghbir Singh and Bajakhana SHO Amarjit Singh Kalar. They have alleged that the commission exceeded its powers and scope by recommending action against them.

The commission had held the three cops responsible for firing at protesters in October 2015, leading to the death of two men. The protesters were upset over the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib in the Behbal Kalan village gurdwara.

Justice Ranjit panel report ignored crucial facts: Plea

Claiming that although they appeared before Justice Ranjit Singh, they were condemned unheard as the commission didn’t give them an opportunity to present evidence, crossexamine witnesses or be represented, before being indicted. The cops called the report biased for ignoring crucial facts, like the police party being shot at and police personnel being injured in the violence.

The petitioners also stated that the Punjab government had on October 16, 2015, constituted the Justice Zora Singh commission to investigate the sacrilege incidents in Faridkot and the firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan, both of which took place on October 14, 2015. The petitioners had deposed before the commission and the report had concluded that the police firing was unwarranted.

It was stated that with the change of government in the state, Justice Ranjit Singh was appointed to inquire into the incident afresh on April 14, 2017, without notifying the substitution of the Justice Zora Singh commission.

According to the petitioners, the Justice Ranjit Singh commission, in its report submitted on June 30, 2018, has indicted them. Subsequently, the Punjab government submitted an action taken report before the assembly on August 24, suggesting action against them by initiating criminal proceedings

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