A CBI court here on Saturday upheld Punjab’s right to the closure report in the Bargari sacrilege cases, finding “sufficient reason” to its satisfaction to supply a certified copy of the report, along with all the attached documents, to the state.CBI Special Judge Nirbhow Singh allowed the revision petition filed by the state government against the July 23 order passed by a Special Judicial Magistrate, who had dismissed Punjab’s application for supply of closure report.The judge directed the Special Magistrate to supply the documents to the State of Punjab, according to Advocate General Atul Nanda, who had constituted a team of two Special Public Prosecutors, Rajesh Salwan and Sanjeev Batra, (both District Attorneys) to argue the revision petition in the court. Along with the special public prosecutors, AIG Crime Sarabjeet Singh was also present on behalf of the state.Accepting the state’s contention that it was entitled to copies of the closure report and attached documents, the court noted that as per the relevant sections of the Punjab Civil and Criminal Courts Preparation and Supply of Copies of Record Rules, 1965, “the party to a criminal case is entitled to copy of challan and similarly even a stranger to a criminal case is entitled for the same in case sufficient reason is shown to the satisfaction of the Court.”Allowing the revision petition, the court observed that as per Rule 4(4), copies required for official purpose by public officers of the Central Government or any State Government in India shall be supplied free of cost, if the application for the supply of copy is endorsed by the head of the department of the concerned Government.The judge also noted that “It is not the case of CBI that the Closure Report or the documents attached thereto are confidential or classified documents and neither any application was filedbefore the trial Court under Section 173(6) Cr.P.C. for not giving any part of documents to the complainant or the accused of the case being against the public interest.”“As per Rule 3(2), even a stranger is entitled for copy of the challan in case sufficient reason is shown to the satisfaction of the Court. The word 'stranger' is not defined in the rules and the dictionary meaning of a word 'stranger' is a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar. In view of the facts as stated above the status of State of Punjab in any case is better than that of a stranger,” the judge ruled.
The prosecution’s case was that the three FIRs in the sacrilege cases were initially registered by the Punjab Police but the investigation was later handed over by the State of Punjab to CBI, which re-registered the cases as RC No. 13(S)/2015/SC-III/ND dated 13.11.2015, RC No.14(S)/2015/SC-III/ND dated 13.11.2015 and RC No.15(S)/2015lSC-III/ND dated 13.11.2015 respectively. It was submitted that the CBI having filed a joint Closure Report in the above said three cases, the State of Punjab requires the certified copy of joint report along with the copies of documents attached thereto for its official use.It was further submitted by the prosecution that only the investigation was transferred and CBI had been informing the stage of investigation to the State of Punjab from time to time. Further, the prosecution argued that later on, a resolution was passed by the Punjab Legislative Assembly vide which the investigation was taken back from the CBI and accordingly, on 06.09.2018, a notification was issued by the State of Punjab, withdrawing the consent to the CBI to investigate the case. The said resolution and the notification were challenged in the High Court, which, vide judgment reported as 2019(2) RCR Criminal, Page 165, upheld the notification. The CBI did not file any SLP and thus, after the withdrawal of the consent, the State had full right to investigate the cases, it was argued for the state.Further, the prosecution contended that as per Article 246 of the Constitution of India, “the State is well within its right to investigate the cases and once the consent has been withdrawn, the State has right to get copy of the Closure Report. In addition, as per High Court Rules and Orders, a party to criminal proceedings can get the copies of the challan and document attached thereto and since the FIRs were registered by the State of Punjab, therefore, the State of Punjab is a necessary party in the present case.”They also submitted that as per Police Act, 1861, “the superintendence of Police throughout a general Police District shall vest in and shall be exercised by the State Government to which such District is subordinate.” They submitted that as per Punjab Civil and Criminal Courts Preparations and Supply of Copy of Records Rules, 1965, any party to a civil or criminal case is entitled to copies of the challan.In fact, even if it was assumed for the sake of argument that the state was not an interested party, it was still entitled to the copy according to Rule 3(2) as even a stranger to a criminal case can get copy of the challan if sufficient cause is shown to the Court, the prosecution argued.