Disclosing that the Supreme Court had vindicated the state government’s stand by rejecting the CBI plea seeking permission to probe the cases, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday assured the Assembly that the SIT investigation into the Behbal Kalan and Bargari cases would be taken to its logical conclusion.In a major legal victory for the state government, the Supreme Court had on Thursday morning allowed the state to carry on its investigations into the sacrilege cases and the subsequent police firing in these cases, which were handed over to the CBI by the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime. In view of the CBI’s failure to complete the probe in the cases, the Captain Amarinder government had announced in the House earlier that the cases would be taken back from the central agency and would be investigated by the state government.Karan Bhariokhe was the advocate on record for the state from the office of Advocate General Atul Nanda.During the hearing in the apex court, a division bench of Justice Rohington Nariman and Ravindra Bhatt dismissed the CBI case, rejecting the arguments of their advocate Aman Lekhi on the ground that instead of the 90 days given to the agency to file the SLP, it had taken 257 days to make its submission. The judge also rejected Lekhi’s argument that the CBI team had a problem on the legal issue as it would form precedent, and not on the investigation being transferred. The judge then ordered dismissal of the SLP on the ground of delay, while keeping the question of law open. Incidentally, the question of law, whether section 21 of General Clauses Act applies to Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, was earlier left open in the cases of Kazi Lendum Dorji and R. Chadrashekhar as well, Atul Nanda said, giving details of the proceedings in the apex court.
Given this, the act of reverting the investigation to the State Police from CBI has now attained finality and no further fetter remains on the SIT to investigate the same, said Nanda.As per the judgements in Dorji and Chandrashekhar, once investigation is transferred to CBI it cannot be withdrawn. Those cases were decided on their own facts, but the question of whether the state legislature has the power to take back an investigation from CBI, in terms of general clauses act, was left open.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 since the CBI had 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.