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Recommendations not binding, to be established by separate evidence: Punjab govt to high court

September 21, 2018 05:32 AM

COURTESY HT SEP 21

Recommendations not binding, to be established by separate evidence: Punjab govt to high court
THE HEARING HAS BEEN DEFERRED TILL OCT 11, ENABLING PETITIONERS TO RESPOND TO THE STATE’S SUBMISSIONS

CHANDIGARH : Defending the recommendations of justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission probing incidents of sacrilege and violence of 2015, the Punjab government has said that its findings are recommendatory in nature, nonbinding, and have to be substantiated by separate evidence to take action against a person.

A First-Information Report (FIR) may be registered and for that FIR such information may be in the form of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) report, but the evidence collected by such a CoI can be a starting point for a probe against the persons in question, the government has told the court. It added that the inquiry officer can form an opinion that is different from that of the commission. The government’s submissions are part of the response it has submitted before the bench of justice RK Jain on a petition challenging the Ranjit Panel report and its recommendations.

The hearing was deferred till October 11, enabling the petitioners to respond to the state’s submissions. The petitioners are three retired Punjab police officers including former Moga SSP Charanjit Singh Sharma, former Mansa SSP Raghbir Singh Sandhu and Bajakhana SHO Amarjit Singh Kalar — all named in the FIR registered in the Behbal Kalan firing.

The government has argued that the officers knew of the mandate of the commission, but did not lay any challenge to neither at the time of their appearance before it nor in court now. The terms of reference of the CoI were notified and the report is in consonance with that, it added.

Justice (retd) Ranjit panel submitted its report on June 30, 2018, holding that the Faridkot incident of firing in October 2015 was unprovoked and uncalled for. These former officers were issued a show-cause notice to explain their position in respect of findings of report on August 23.

To the argument that Ranjit panel substituted the justice (retd) Jora Singh panel, set up by the previous SAD-BJP government, the state has said that there was no formal order of termination of the previous commission since it ended automatically on June 30, 2016, the time assigned to it to submit its report.

To notify the termination of COI is needed when it is being prematurely ended, the government has said. It added that there is also no embargo on appointing successive COIs. It was on September 13 that the high court had stayed further proceedings on the petition CoI.

On the arguments that the they were not heard before making any comment on their role, the government has said that the two former officers (SSPs) were advised of their rights while recording their statements. As far the right of cross-examination is concerned, it must be sought for by a party through a formal application, the government added

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