SC dismisses plea of CBI against withdrawal of consent by Punjab to probe sacrilege cases

SC dismisses plea of CBI against withdrawal of consent by Punjab to probe sacrilege cases

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New Delhi, February 20

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the CBI’s plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order by which it had last year refused to interfere with the Punjab Government decision to take back all sacrilege cases from the central probe agency.

A Bench of Justices RF Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat dismissed the CBI’s plea on the ground of delay but left the question of law open.

“...Special Leave Petitions are dismissed on the ground of delay. However, the question of law is left open. Pending application stands disposed of,” the Bench said.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, appearing for the CBI, said there was delay in filing the appeal as the probe agency had to deal with legal issue as it may form a precedent.

Senior advocates P Chidambaram and Siddharth Luthra appeared for Punjab Government in the matter.

The Bench was informed that there was nearly one-year delay in filing of the appeal against the high court order by the CBI.

The high court had on January 25 last year said, “The chain of events shows that the same (incidents) are inextricably linked, thus, this court does not feel the necessity to interfere in the decision of the state government to withdraw investigation from CBI or to set aside consequent notifications.”

The previous SAD-BJP government in Punjab had in October 2015 handed over the probe to the CBI.

After, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government assumed office in 2017, the state government had on September 6, 2018, issued a notification, withdrawing the consent given to the CBI to investigate the cases.

The government had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab Police to investigate the Behbal Kalan and Bargari sacrilege and subsequent police firing cases.

The cases pertain to the 2015 sacrilege incidents at Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala villages and police firing incidents at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in Faridkot. — PTI