HC grants anticipatory bail to SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, ex-DGP Sumedh Saini in 2015 police firing case


Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir S. Badal.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir S. Badal. , Photo Credit: PTI

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 29 granted anticipatory bail to Punjab’s former Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badalas well as to ex-Director General of Police (DGP) Sumedh Saini and four other former police officers, in connection with a 2015 case where the police allegedly fired on peaceful protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in Faridkot district.

Granting the bail, Justice Anoop Chitkara asserted that it was not a case that required the pre-trial incarceration of the petitioners, that is, the accused. He pointed out that the latest Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Punjab police, despite finding a prima facie case against the accused, had chosen not to arrest them, simply filing a police report instead.

‘Custodial interrogation unnecessary’

“When the concerned Judicial Magistrate had directed the investigator to produce the petitioners-accused, they apprehended arrest and filed an application(s) for anticipatory bail before the sessions court, which was dismissed. Thus, if the State was interested in arresting the petitioners during the pendency of the trial, then nothing could have stopped them from doing so because, till that time, the petitioners had no favorable order, including any interim order,” Justice Chitkara said.

The court asserted that the SIT has already concluded the investigation, and thus did not need to interrogate the petitioners. “Furthermore, the evidence that was collected was based on eyewitness accounts and documentary or digital records. Thus, the question of custodial interrogation of the petitioners does not arise,” the judge said.

‘Conspiracy not proven’

“The foremost parameter that requires consideration while granting anticipatory bail is the impact of the crime on the victim(s), society, and the State. In the present case, the magnitude of the crime was undoubtedly massive; still, the evidence collected against the petitioners is based on presumptions that the petitioners were involved in the conspiracy, and the evidence prima facie lacks evidence qua motive. It is not the case of the SIT that any accused was spearheading any campaign to hurt the religious feelings of the Sikh community and other people who have immense faith in Sikhism. Based on the quality of evidence, this Court cannot assume the existence of any conspiracy, and it is for the prosecution to prove the same during the later stages of the matter, if such stage arrives,” he added.

Two people were killed in the police firing in Behbal Kalan of Faridkot district in 2015, while at Kotkapura a few people were injured during the protests, which followed the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari village. Widespread protests were witnessed in the State, and since then, it has remained a key political issue in both the 2017 and 2022 Assembly elections.

The petitioners — apprehending arrest for hatching a conspiracy for unprovoked firing upon peaceful protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan — had approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail.


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