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Posted at: Jul 12, 2019, 7:11 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2019, 9:06 AM (IST)

Sukhbir, Majithia get bail

Judiciary should not be ridiculed, vandalised: Bench

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 11

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday granted bail to former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and MLA Bikram Singh Majithia, but not before observing that the judiciary could not be ridiculed and vandalised.

The two, facing allegations of bringing to disrepute sacrilege commission headed by Justice Ranjit Singh, were directed to appear before a Bench today on a criminal complaint filed by the former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge.

Justice Ranjit Singh had filed the complaint against the two for deliberately and willfully making “false, derogatory and defamatory” statements on public platforms against him. Justice Ranjit has submitted that the intention was to bring to disrepute him and the commission of inquiry headed by him for looking into the cases of sacrilege in Punjab during the previous SAD-BJP regime.

As the case came up for resumed hearing this afternoon, the two were granted bail on personal surety of Rs 1 lakh each after they appeared before Justice Amit Rawal’s Bench in pursuance to the earlier order.

Justice Rawal asked Sukhbir’s counsel Ashok Aggarwal whether he had gone through the recordings. Justice Rawal was apparently referring to CDs annexed along with Justice Ranjit’s complaint against the two. Justice Rawal had examined the CDs to see whether the commission was actually brought to disrepute.

He said he issued notice (to the two) after going through the recordings. “Judiciary should not be ridiculed and vandalised like this. The Constitution has given freedom of speech and expression. But it has to be circumscribed,” Justice Rawal added.

Describing the two as senior politicians who had a long way to go, Justice Rawal said: “It has unnecessarily invited litigation and could have been avoided. Politicians get easily carried away in emotions, instead of applying their mind.”

Appearing for Justice Ranjit Singh, senior advocate APS Deol submitted that the complainant would be filing a list of the witnesses to be examined. Aggarwal and Majithia’s counsel RS Cheema, on the other hand, submitted that the question of maintainability of Justice Ranjit Singh’s complaint had been kept open and they would be making submissions on the issue on the next date of hearing.

Justice Rawal said the court deemed it appropriate to adjourn the hearing to August 21 when the counsel representing the parties would address arguments on the issue. The two will have to appear before the Bench, unless exempted.

Justice Ranjit Singh, in his complaint, has invoked the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, for seeking action. The provisions, among other things, say: “If any person, by words either spoken or intended to be read, makes or publishes any statement or does any other act, which is calculated to bring the Commission or any member thereof into disrepute, he shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both”.

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