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Punjab’s plea for re-probe in Bhattal case shot down
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 12
The Supreme Court today dismissed Punjab Government’s petition seeking a re-investigation into the corruption case against Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, pertaining to alleged misappropriation of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s relief fund when she was heading the Congress government in the state.

Describing the state government’s move as “politically motivated”, a bench of Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharawal and Mr Justice B. N. Agrawal dismissed the government’s special leave petition against the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s January 27 order at the notice stage.

The high court had rejected the state government’s petition for deferring the framing of charges and a re-probe.

The Punjab Government sought a re-investigation on the ground that a file containing receipts of disbursement of the Rs 20 lakh relief amount, was found this year at the state Secretariat and in the light of the same a, fresh probe needed to be ordered under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC.

The apex court said in this case the “bona fide” question was not the honesty in the investigation but whether the courts below had taken on record the purported receipts.

“The state government cannot treat the courts below in this manner,” Mr Justice Sabharwal observed.

When Punjab’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi said in the event of the finding of the file, the re-investigation had become necessary, under the law, the Bench observed “finding of the file and its genuineness depends upon what political complexion was (in place) at that particular time.”

When Mr Rohtagi contended that a fresh investigation was required in public interest to establish whether the receipts were genuine or not, the court said the remedy of re-investigation should not be “for the purpose of political ends.”

The case against Ms Bhattal was initiated by the Punjab Police on the basis of a private complaint and she was consequently chargesheeted under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the relevant provisions of the IPC in November, 2002.

The Punjab Government had filed an application for deferring the framing of charges and taking into account the receipts found earlier this year. But the trial judge did not pass any order on this, following which a petition was filed in the high court by the state.

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