HC directs CBI to hand over case files related to 2015 sacrilege incidents to Punjab Police

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Chandigarh, Jan 4 (PTI) The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the CBI to hand over all case diaries and papers related to the 2015 sacrilege incidents, including alleged desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, to the Punjab Police within a month.

The court's directions came during a hearing on the plea of one of the accused in the sacrilege incidents, Sukhjinder Singh alias Sunny.

The Punjab government had handed over the probe into the alleged desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and other religious texts of the Sikh faith in 2015 to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police in September 2018 after the state Assembly passed a resolution withdrawing consent to the CBI to investigate these cases, noting lack of progress in the investigation.

Sukhjinder had challenged the investigation being undertaken by the SIT of the Punjab Police on the ground that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is already seized of the probe, according to a Punjab government statement issued here on Monday.

The high court rejected Sukhjinder's plea and asked the CBI to hand over all relevant documents and material in the sacrilege cases to the Punjab Police, it said.

It further directed the Punjab Police to consider the material handed over by the CBI and file a supplementary challan in the case, for consideration by the trial court.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the high court’s directions as an “endorsement” of the state government's stand on the investigations into the 2015 sacrilege incidents.

Amarinder, in a statement, said it was high time the CBI listened to the courts and handed the case files back to the state so that the perpetrators of the crimes could be brought to justice.

He said his government has been fighting the CBI's alleged “high-handedness” for more than two years but the agency has “failed” to heed the various directions and orders of the courts in this time.

The previous SAD-BJP government had handed over three sacrilege cases -- theft of a 'bir' (copy) of Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Wala gurdwara on June 1, 2015, putting up of hand-written sacrilegious posters in Bargari and Burj Jawahar Singh Wala on September 25 and torn pages of the holy book being found at Bargari on October 12, 2015 in Faridkot -- to the CBI for probe.

Reiterating his government’s resolve to bring the cases to their 'logical conclusion', the Punjab chief minister said the central agency should respect the verdict of the judiciary and “stop overreaching the courts at the behest of its political masters.” The Punjab government’s decision to hand over the probe into the desecration of religious texts incidents to the SIT was upheld by the high court on January 25, 2019, after the CBI challenged it.

In July 2019, the CBI filed its closure report in the CBI court at Mohali, but took a U-turn later praying before the court to keep the report in abeyance and said the investigation was still continuing.

The CBI's appeal challenging the 2019 judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was dismissed by the Supreme Court in February 2020.

Even after the dismissal of the appeal, the CBI did not hand over diaries and papers relating to the sacrilege cases to the Punjab police, as per a government statement.

The Punjab Police SIT had filed a charge-sheet before a trial court in Faridkot in July 2020, which was challenged by Sukhjinder.

Two persons, who were part of the anti-sacrilege protesters, were killed in the police firing at Behbal Kalan in 2015. PTI CHS VSD AQS AQS