Amritsar The Supreme Court has dismissed the petition of 41 Punjab cops (mostly retired) questioning the jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI’s) Jammu branch in probing the alleged abduction and killing of more than 20 innocent youths of the state from 1992-1994.
The case was listed for hearing before a bench of justice AM Khanwilkar and justice CT Ravi Kumar on Friday. The petitioners, who were deployed as inspectors, sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors across police stations of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts, had filed their application in the apex court on September 21.
The apex court’s decision comes a month after the Punjab and Haryana high court had dismissed the retired cops’ plea. On September 2, justice Arvind Singh Sangwan upheld the jurisdiction of CBI Jammu to probe the cases of disappearance of the youths, most of whom were from Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts.
With this, most of the police officials indicted by the CBI in their charge-sheets, would face trial in the case before the special CBI court in Mohali. One of the cops Bhupinderjeet Singh Virk is serving as senior superintendent of police (SSP) in Bathinda.
CASE REGISTERED IN 1997
The case against these police officials was registered in 1997 after the direction of the apex court to the CBI. In 1999, the CBI had filed charge-sheets against most of the cops, but the trial could not start, with accused moving the HC and obtaining stay orders.
The main plea of the accused was that the CBI didn’t have any territorial jurisdiction to register the case in Jammu, for incidents related to Punjab. The CBI counsel had, however, submitted that the case was registered on the direction of the apex court and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the Jammu branch was extended to probe these cases.
Senior advocate RS Bains, who represents families of the victims in the case, said, “With the Supreme Court dismissing the plea, a ray of hope for justice has emerged after 30 years. The accused had been delaying the trial since the CBI had registered the case. Most victims were kidnapped, killed and bodies cremated as unclaimed. The CBI probe had found that these men were killed in fake encounters.”
He said many of the cops are retired while some are still serving on higher posts, and some are already in jails in other cases. “On July 22, 1993, my brother Gulshan Kumar along with Jarnail Singh and his brother Karnail Singh of Zira, and Harjinder Singh of Tarn Taran were killed by Tarn Taran police near Palasaur village drain in a fake encounter. Before their encounter, they were brought to Tarn Taran city police station and tortured. Their bodies were cremated unceremoniously in front of my father Chaman Lal, who has also recorded his statement with the CBI,” said Parveen Kumar of Tarn Taran, adding, “Finally, we hope to get justice.”