Sumedh Saini spared ‘Go Direct to Jail’ card

"This case is of 1991. After 30 years what is the hurry to arrest him...We will grant you time to file a reply," says three-judge Supreme Court bench

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Supreme Court of India – Photo: Chandrasekaran Arumugam
By Asia Samachar Team | INDIA |

Punjab former top cop Sumedh Singh Saini, who has been evading police arrest for the last fortnight for a three-decade old murder case, has got some respite from India’s highest court. It did not pull the ‘Go Direct to Jail’ card when his came before them.

The Indian Supreme Court today (15 Sept) granted interim protection from arrest to former Punjab director general of police (DGP) in the 1991 Balwant Singh Multani murder case.

“This case is of 1991. After 30 years what is the hurry to arrest him…We will grant you time to file a reply,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan said, adding he would not be arrested till further orders, reports Tribune News Service.

The court, however, asked Saini to cooperate with Punjab Police in the investigation.

Saini had challenged the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s September 7 order dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in the Multani kidnapping and murder case. The court issued notice to the Punjab government on Saini’s petition seeking anticipatory bail in the case, asking it to respond in three weeks. It gave one week thereafter to Saini to file his rejoinder. The case is likely to come up for further hearing after four weeks, the report added.

Saini went underground since Sept 3 after being booked on May 6 in a 29-year-old case of abduction, torture and disappearance of junior engineer Multani.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court judge had denied his attempts to get anticipatory bail after two co-accused in the case turned approvers in August, leading to the addition of a murder charge against him.

A Mohali court has ordered his arrest and custodial interrogation for the 1991 murder case. It is believed he is avoiding it in a tactical move. By avoiding arrest, Saini can still try to move the judicial system to avail him the anticipatory bail, with the last resort now being the Supreme Court. If arrested, he would have to opt for other options to stay free.

Multani, a junior engineer with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation, was allegedly picked up by the police in December 1991 after a terror attack on Saini that left three policemen killed. Saini was injured in the attack.

Appearing on Saini’s behalf, TNS reported that senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted that it was a serious matter of a decorated police officer being hounded.

“This is a very serious matter, he is a decorated officer…an outstanding officer…a dedicated and hardworking officer who had suffered bullet injuries,” Rohatgi told the court. “I (Saini) was the then SSP, when I was targeted by terrorists….Multani was a PO (proclaimed offender) in a case.”

He said the state government was after Saini because he had filed two chargesheets in which Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder was an accused. “This is why they are after me,” he submitted, the report added.

On behalf of Punjab, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra sought to counter Rohatgi’s arguments, saying the high court had noted that Saini used to intimidate others.

 

RELATED STORY:

Punjab former top cop Sumedh Saini on the run to evade arrest (Asia Samachar, 12 Sept 2020)

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