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Give Chahal notice before arrest: Court
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Games and all that

The tone of the day was set at the very outset of the proceedings, with Chahal’s counsel R.S. Cheema alleging that some “games” were being played at the registry, thus leading to the delay in the listing of the case. At this, judges called for advocate-general H.S. Mattewal, who vehemently denied the allegations and said his office was the last one to resort to such lowly games. He termed the allegation as totally unwarranted and demanded an immediate apology from the petitioner’s counsel.

Chandigarh, June 15
In an order of mixed blessings for B.I.S. Chahal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted him protection against arrest in future cases by the Punjab Police, but rejected his plea of transfer of probe into the land-grab case to the CBI.

The Division Bench, comprising Justice S.S.Saron and Justice Arwind Kumar, pronounced in the open court that Chahal should not be arrested by the Punjab Police in any FIR to be registered against him without giving him a four-day notice in advance. The said order will remain in force till July 4.

Incidentally, the petitioner had sought that at least a week’s notice be given to him in case of his arrest in any case registered in Punjab. Also, the Bench issued a notice to the Punjab government and other respondents, excluding chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, for July 4 only.

Importantly, the said order is subject to modifications, if any, made by the Supreme Court before which an SLP related to the matter is listed for hearing on June 18.

As torture was the leitmotif of the proceedings, the Division Bench pronounced that Chahal’s lawyer be allowed to visit him twice a day and also that Chahal should be medically examined by Rajindra Hospital doctors at least once a day.

The half-day-long proceedings were essentially an encore of the proceedings before Justice Uma Nath Singh’s court where Chahal was granted protection till July 4, through June 1 order, against arrest in all cases to be registered by the Vigilance Bureau.

Punjab’s advocate-general H.S. Mattewal came up with a spirited defence of the police action against the petitioner and said all allegations of mala fide or torture were completely baseless and unsubstantiated as no affidavit to the effect had been filed.

He also filed an affidavit, given by Harish Kumar, SP (City-II), Ludhiana, wherein it was asserted that the petition was not maintainable as it was made by the wife of the petitioner whose verification of its contents was factually incorrect.

Mattewal asked as to how the wife of the petitioner could make allegations of torture as she had never met the petitioner while he was in custody. Also she was not in the country even as revealed by the petitioner during his interrogation by Ludhiana police on June 10.

Contesting the constant rant on torture by the petitioner’s counsel, R.S. Cheema, he produced the order of JMIC (first class), Ludhiana, dated June 14, wherein it was stated that “the accused (Chahal) was making wild allegations of torture to gain the sympathy of the court. A medical board has examined him in detail and found no signs of torture. Thus, no special action is called for.”

R.S.Cheema on his part continued to hammer on torture-mala fide-political vendetta angle and said a spate of FIRs had cast a shadow on the government and its agency’s intentions.

The final outcome, given the court’s pronouncement, implies that Chahal’s predicament will continue and there is no respite as far as FIR no 105 (Ludhiana land grabbing case), FIR no 126 (Mercedes car case) and FIR no 227 (Kitchen expenses case) are concerned.

Importantly, a Patiala court today remanded him to the police custody for one day in the case bearing FIR no 126.

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