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Fake encounter case: CBI for early hearing
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 27
The CBI has pleaded for an early hearing in the Supreme Court of a case of "fake encounter" against five Punjab Police officers during the peak of terrorism 11 years ago, saying the delay of its disposal was affecting trial proceedings in other such cases in different courts in the state.

CBI counsel made a plea before a Bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Mr Justice G.P. Mathur on Monday stating that an important question of law whether prior sanction of the Union Government was required for the prosecution of the police officers under the Punjab Disturbed Area Act, 1983.

The five cops — Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Devinder Singh, Mr Arjan Singh, Mr Dilbagh Singh and Mr Gurbachan Singh — who were holding the ranks of inspector and Sub-Inspector when the alleged "fake encounter" took place on July 22, 1993, had since been promoted to senior ranks.

The CBI counsel said as several cases of alleged "fake encounters" investigated by it, were pending in different courts in Punjab, in which the question of sanction was being raised, the trial proceedings in all those cases would be affected due to this reason.

Following the request of the CBI, the court assured the agency’s counsel that the matter would be listed for early hearing.

The five cops had moved a special leave petition (SLP) against Punjab and Haryana High Court’s March 5, 2001 order dismissing their petition. The High Court had said that no sanction was required for their prosecution and they were not protected from prosecution under the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, when the case is probed by CBI.

The police officers had moved the high court after their application raising the issue of prior sanction, was rejected by the Special Court at Patiala, holding trial in the case. The state government had granted sanction for their prosecution.

They said that "a short question that arises for the consideration of apex court in the SLP is whether in view of provisions of Section 6 or Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, 1993 (as amended in 1989) prosecution or other legal proceedings against the police officers can be instituted only with the prior sanction of Central Government."

According to the CBI case, four persons were killed on July 22, 1993 in a "fake encounter" near Palasour village on Jamasatpur-Bakipur road in Tarn Taran district.

They were identified as Karnail Singh, Jarnail Singh, Harjinder Singh and Gulshan Kumar. The complaint with the CBI was lodged by Gulshan’s father Chaman Lal in 1997.

The police officers had claimed immunity from prosecution on the ground that they were "discharging" their duty to combat terrorism in the state, which had claimed 25,000 lives of civilians and took a toll of 1800 security forces personnel.

They claimed that the allegations of "fake encounter" against them were false as the four persons who were killed, were confronted in a major "naka" in which nearly 31 police personnel took part. The encounter took place when they had fired at police party after asked to stop when they were coming on scooters from Tarn Taran side in the wee hours.

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