Bargari sacrilege cases: Trial court grants CBI time till March 6 to examine SC order dismissing its plea
A Mohali special court has posted for March 6 the hearing in the Bargari sacrilege cases after the CBI sought time to examine a recent SC order dismissing its plea concerning the agency’s right to keep probing the matter.
On February 20, SC had dismissed central agency’s plea challenging a Punjab and Haryana High Court order that had refused to interfere in the Punjab government’s decision to take back all sacrilege cases from the CBI. A bench of Justices R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat, while dismissing the CBI plea to continue its probe, had said, “…Special Leave Petitions are dismissed on the ground of delay. However, the question of law is left open. Pending application stands disposed of.”
On Wednesday, the CBI told the Mohali court that since the “question of law has been left open by the SC in its order on February 20”, it needed more time to decide the next course of action. It reiterated that as per law consent once given by the state government cannot be withdrawn subsequently.
While CBI sought 15 days, Special CBI Judge G S Sekhon granted the time till March 6.
During its arguments for more time, the CBI also pointed out that Director of Bureau of Investigation (BOI) of Punjab Police had written a letter to CBI in July last year saying that there were new facts which needed to be investigated following which the agency had started further probe.
Contesting the CBI’s claims, Inspector General of Police (IG) Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, who was the member of Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state government last year to probe the sacrilege cases, told that court that the letter was written around six months back and the agency had found nothing new since then.
The cases pertain to the 2015 sacrilege incidents at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala villages and police firing incidents at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in Faridkot.
The previous SAD-BJP government in Punjab had in October 2015 handed over the probe to the CBI. After, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government assumed office in 2017, the state government had on September 6, 2018, issued a notification withdrawing the consent given to the CBI to investigate the cases.
The government had then constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab Police to investigate the matter.
On January 25 last year, the High Court refused to interfere in the decision of the state government to withdraw investigation from CBI. After the central agency moved the apex court against the HC decision, the SC last week dismissed the plea after being informed that there was nearly one-year delay in filing of the appeal against the HC order by the CBI.
In the meantime, the special court has been hearing arguments in the sacrilege cases where the CBI had filed a closure report. In this court too, Punjab has reiterated its stand that its police now be allowed to take over the probe.
After the SC verdict, Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda had on February 21 told the state government that Punjab Police is empowered to investigate the cases and recommended seeking return of case records from the central agency, adding that contempt proceedings must be initiated in case they do not return the files.