New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday granted anticipatory bail to former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini in the 1991 disappearance and murder case of a junior engineer.
A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah allowed the appeal of Saini against the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court declining him the pre-arrest bail in the 29-year-old case.
The top court directed the Punjab Police to release Saini on bail in the event of arrest on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs one lakh and two sureties of the like amount.
It had reserved the order on the plea of Saini on November 17 in the alleged murder of Balwant Singh Multani.
Saini was booked in May in connection with the disappearance of Multani when he was working as a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation.
The top court had on September 15 granted interim protection from arrest to Saini in the matter and sought the state government’s reply on his plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order refusing to grant him anticipatory bail.
During the hearing of the matter, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Saini had submitted that his client had been a decorated officer, who rose from the ranks, and was a prime target of terrorists for his ruthless handling of the menace in Punjab and that the present case is an example of “political vendetta” as some FIRs were lodged against the present chief minister by him when he was in service.
The state government had opposed the plea, saying the grant of anticipatory bail to Saini at this stage would hamper the probe.
The top court had asked the state government as to why the custody of Saini would be needed when almost 30 years have passed since the alleged offence was committed.
On September 8, the high court had dismissed Saini’s two pleas including the one on anticipatory bail in the case. Saini had approached the high court after a Mohali court dismissed his bail plea in this case on September 1.
The Punjab Police on September 3 had claimed that Saini had absconded while denying his wife’s claims of withdrawal of his security cover.
A Mohali court had on August 21 allowed the Punjab Police to add a murder charge against him in this case.
This came after two former Chandigarh police personnel, former UT police Inspector Jagir Singh and former ASI Kuldeep Singh, who are also co-accused, turned approver in the case.
Multani, who was a resident of Mohali, was picked up by police after a terrorist attack on Saini, who was then the senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh, in 1991.
However, the police had later claimed that Multani had escaped from police custody of Qadian police in Gurdaspur.
Saini and six others were booked on the complaint of Multani’s brother, Palwinder Singh Multani, who is a resident of Jalandhar.
The case was registered against them under sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence), 344 (wrongful confinement), 330 (voluntarily causes hurt) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code at Mataur police station in Mohali.