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HC stays proceedings against former Moga SSP in sacrilege case 

Chandigarh, September 13

Weeks after Justice Ranjit Singh Commission’s report on incidents of sacrilege in Punjab was placed before the Vidhan Sabha, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed further proceedings against then Faridkot SSP Charanjit Singh, then Mansa SSP Raghbir Singh Sandhu, along with then Station House Officer (SHO) of the Bajakhana police station Amarjit Singh. All three have since retired.

Issuing a notice of motion for September 20, Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain made it clear that the stay was on proceedings in pursuance of recommendations by the Justice Ranjit Singh panel. The three had moved the High Court through counsel Sant Pal Singh Sidhu and Amandeep Singh Talwar for quashing Justice Ranjit Singh’s report primarily on three grounds. 

Senior advocate Akshay Bhan and Sidhu argued that the first commission set up under Justice Zora Singh could not have been substituted by a second commission, that Justice Ranjit Singh commission had gone beyond its mandate by involving itself in presumptive adjudicatory process and three, that it had not complied with procedure.

Elaborating, Bhan and Sidhu argued that the first commission was required to be denotified before the second panel was set up under the provisions of the Commission of Inquiries Act. Rather, a notification terminating the mandate of the first commission was required to be issued and the second commission could not have been set up during the pendency of the first one.

They argued the commission had a fact-finding role and not an adjudicatory one, its function being to  simply submit appropriate facts before the government. But instead of highlighting the factual situation regarding the incidents in an unbiased manner, the commission had proceeded to adjudicate upon fixing the guilt for the firing, they contended. The report was beyond jurisdiction and unsustainable in the eyes of the law, it was argued.     

The Bench was told the commission did not issue notice under Section 8-B of the Act, which says the commission is mandated to give a person reasonable opportunity to be heard during the inquiry and to produce evidence in defence. “Though the commission stated in its report that Charanjit Singh was issued an 8-B notice, it was never issued.” 

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