Punjab Advocate General Atul Nanda on Thursday termed the CBI closure report on the Bargari sacrilege case as "bad in law", saying the probe agency had no jurisdiction in the matter after the state government withdrew the cases from it last year.
"The CBI lost all authority and jurisdiction to continue with any investigation in the cases, much less to file a closure report, after the state government issued a formal notification to withdraw the cases from the agency in September 2018," said Nanda according to a release issued by his office.
He said that the correct legal course for the CBI, instead of filing the closure report, would have been to inform the court that it was no longer probing the matter.
Nanda's statement came a day after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh rejected the `hurried' CBI closure report in the Bargari sacrilege case and said that it had caused a deep sense of hurt and anguish among the Sikh community.
The Advocate General found the CBI's decision to file the closure report, all of a sudden, to be "intriguing", and said the move clearly indicated the agency's newfound hurry to give a clean chit to the accused persons in the cases.
Nanda also expressed surprise at the CBI's stand that Punjab government was not aware of the events, and thus was not entitled to a copy of the closure report. This stand, he said, was absurd, considering that the agency itself had in its closure report cited the "reports" and "inputs" of the Punjab Police.
Explaining the legal position in the matter, the Advocate General pointed out that as per Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (under which the CBI operates), the consent of the concerned state government is required to investigate, under the Indian Penal Code, criminal offences which have taken place in such a State.
"Despite the earlier Akali regime having granted such consent, however, on 6th September 2018, in line with a resolution of the House, the State Government had passed a formal notification withdrawing the said cases from the CBI. He further pointed out that this action was legally upheld by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana in its judgment dated 25 January 2019, filed by some of the accused police officers," the release read.
"The High Court had, in fact, noted that the CBI had, despite the lapse of almost three years, made no progress in investigation had been made by the CBI in the cases. The Court had noted " ...during the course of hearing, this Court called for the case diary of the CBI and perused the same. It was evident that investigation in the cases had hardly made any headway.... On a specific query being put to the CBI Counsel about the status of the investigations despite lapse of almost three years, no clear answer was forthcoming," the release further read.
Nanda said, "The fact that the CBI failed to challenge this judgement clearly shows that it had failed to conduct any mengful investigations since it was handed over the cases in 2015, and had accepted such Court findings."
"In contrast to the CBI's failure to make any progress in the cases, the SIT set up by the State to probe the same had made significant headway," he said.
"By questioning some of the accused, the SIT had unearthed the role of other accused. The searches conducted in some of the accused's homes had revealed evidence related to the incidents, such as mobile chips, incriminating communication asking them to cause such activities, ammunition and payment of funds of upto Rs 6 crore for instigating the events, etc," the release read.
The previous Punjab government had, in November 2015, handed over to CBI the investigation of three sacrilege cases - theft of a 'bir' of Guru Granth Sahib from a Burj Jawahar Singh Walagurdwara 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.
( With inputs from ANI )