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SC acquits US-extradited Punjab militant
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 5
A Punjab militant extradited from the US and awarded five years’ rigorous imprisonment by a special TADA judge escaped the clutches of the law as the state’s police faulted in not following a correct procedure of law in charge-sheeting him. So the Supreme Court had no option but to acquit him.

Harpal Singh was found guilty by the designated judge of Kapurthala earlier this year in a 1992 explosive seizure case when the militancy in the state was at its peak.

Allowing his appeal against conviction, a Bench of Justices G P Mathur and G S Singhvi said the Punjab Police had faulted in not getting the mandatory sanction from an IG-rank officer for his prosecution. The special judge, too, also committed a mistake of proceeding with the trial without the sanction.

“The sentence imposed is set aside… the appellant shall be released forthwith unless wanted in some other cases,” the court ordered.

The apex court held that to proceed under the TADA, a law now repealed, it was mandatory for the police to obtain sanction from the IG-rank officer to file the chargesheet against an accused, charged under the anti-terror law, which was not done by it.

Harpal was extradited from the US in 2006 after escaping from the police net in 1995 and had sought “political asylum” there.

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