NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Punjab government to place on record the charge sheet filed in the fresh FIR lodged against former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in the 1991 disappearance and murder of a junior engineer Balwant Singh Multani.
The top court had already granted anticipatory bail to Saini in the fresh case lodged in the 1991 disappearance and murder of Multani.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah also asked the trial court to postpone its scheduled hearing of January 22 as the top court is hearing this matter.
The bench is hearing Saini's plea seeking to quash the fresh FIR lodged in the case in May 2020.
"Gopal Subramanium, senior counsel, for the State seeks time to place the charge sheet and additional documents on the record. Let him do within two weeks. Counsel for the petitioner submits that matter be listed in the month of February, 2021. List in the second week of February, 2021," the bench said.
The bench said it has been informed by the counsel for the State that the matter has been fixed by the Magistrate on January 22, 2021 for the appearance of the petitioner (Saini).
"In view of the fact that we are hearing this matter, it shall be appropriate for the Magistrate to postpone the date by the end of February, 2021," the bench said.
At the outset, senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, appearing for the Punjab Government said that a charge sheet has been filed in the case and summons have been issued to Saini for appearance in the court on January 22.
He said that since the issue requires to be heard at length, Saini be asked to appear before the court and take the charge sheet filed in the case against him.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Saini, said that the charge sheet cannot be filed in the matter when question over validity of FIR is yet to be decided by the top court.
He sought a stay of proceedings on the charge sheet in the trial court and Punjab government be asked to place the charge sheet on record before the top court.
Rohatgi added that Saini cannot be asked to appear before the trial court and therefore liberty be granted to record appearance through his lawyer on January 22.
Subramanian said that the Punjab government will not do anything which will prejudice anyone as the matter is pending before the top court but the accused may be asked to appear before trial court as the summons have been issued against him.
Rohatgi said the matter be listed in February since it requires detailed hearing.
On December 3, last year the top court had granted anticipatory bail to Saini in a fresh case lodged in the 1991 disappearance and murder of a junior engineer Balwant Singh Multani. It had set aside an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court declining him the pre-arrest bail in the 29-year-old case.
The top court had said that long delay in lodging of FIR as in the present case can certainly be a valid consideration for grant of anticipatory bail.
It had noted that the impugned FIR (dated May 6) has been lodged by Palwinder Singh Multani, brother of the deceased, after almost 29 years from the date of incident and after nine years from the date of decision of the top Court in the 2011 case of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar related to the incident.
It had said that even in the fresh FIR there were only allegations of offences like abduction, causing disappearance of evidence, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal conspiracy under IPC for which there was an order of anticipatory bail in favour of Saini.
Saini was booked in May, last year in connection with the disappearance of Multani when he was working as a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation.
On September 8, last year the high court had dismissed Saini's two pleas for anticipatory bail in the case and quashing of the fresh FIR.
Saini had approached the high court after a Mohali court dismissed his bail plea in this case on September 1, last year.
The Punjab Police on September 3, last year had claimed that Saini had absconded while denying his wife's claims of withdrawal of his security cover.
A Mohali court had on August 21, last year allowed the Punjab Police to add a murder charge against him in this case.
This came after two former Chandigarh police personnel, UT police Inspector Jagir Singh and ASI Kuldeep Singh, who are also co-accused, turned approver in the case.
Multani, who was a resident of Mohali, was picked up by police after a terrorist attack on Saini, who was then the senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh, in 1991.
However, the police had later claimed that Multani had escaped from police custody of Qadian police in Gurdaspur.
Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Multani's brother, Palwinder, a resident of Jalandhar.
The case was registered against them under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causes hurt) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Mataur police station in Mohali.