Read Order: Lawrence Bishnoi v. State of Punjab and Others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, June 4, 2022: While dealing with a writ by Lawrence Bishnoi seeking directions to Punjab Police to conduct his interrogation in connection with an FIR lodged in the murder of late singer- Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu (also know as Sidhu Moosewala), either through online mode/video conference facility or within the precincts of Tihar Jail, New Delhi where he currently lodged, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed this petition while terming it to be “completely premature”.

However, the Bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur added, 

“Be that as it may, as, and, when a genuine apprehension spur, qua the present petitioner, being likely to be lawfully arrested in respect of the petition FIR, thereupon, he may avail the appropriate remedies. Therefore, the instantly availed remedy, rather for all the aforementioned reasons, is completely premature, and is dismissed as such.”

Essentially, in this case, an FIR was registered under Sections 302, 307, 341, 148, 149, 427, 120-B IPC and under Sections 25, 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 at Police Station City-I Mansa, District Mansa, in connection with the murder of singer- Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu and Lawrence Bishnoi was anticipating interrogation in the same. 

Thus, the petitioner approached the Court seeking direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondents to ensure that the life, liberty, and well-being of the petitioner, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is protected. Directions were also sought for dispensing the physical presence and production of the petitioner in respect of the investigation into the FIR in Mansa under Sections 302, 307, 341, 148, 149, 427, 120-B of the IPC and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 and other crimes/FIR registered against the petitioner owing to serious threat perception to him. 

The petitioner rather proposed that his interrogation be conducted through an online mode/video conference facility or within the precincts of Tihar Jail, New Delhi. The petitioner also sought that his investigation/interrogation of the petitioner is Audio and Video recorded in compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh and Ors.

The Court observed that after the lodging of the FIR, the petitioner nursed an apprehension that through warrants of arrest made by the police upon the Superintendent of Jail concerned, he is likely to be arrested by the police of the State of Punjab and thereafter, to be produced before the Illaqa Magistrate by investigating officer asking for his being put to either police remand or judicial remand. He further apprehended that during the course of his transit from the jail (where he is lodged) to the Court concerned where he is likely to be produced, there is every likelihood of his being eliminated in a fake encounter.

It was his counsel’s case that instead of the physical presence of the accused before the Court of the jurisdictional Magistrate, he may be produced through an online video conferencing facility in Tihar Jail. 

On the other hand, the State Counsel stated that the Punjab Police had not nominated the present petitioner as an accused, in the petition FIR. Therefore, the Counsel termed all the above-reared apprehensions on the part of the present petitioner, as completely premature, and, also mis-constituted. 

Also, it was brought to the notice of the Court that by virtue of an order made by the Judicial Magistrate, Delhi on May 31, 2022, the prayer made by the public prosecutor was granted and Bishnoi was remanded to police custody in respect of a crime committed by him at Police Station Special Cell, Delhi.

Thus, the Court, after considering all of the facets opined that the present petitioner cannot nurse any apprehension that yet he is likely to face any police remand after his being likely to be arrested under any warrants of arrest as may be issued by the police officer concerned, upon the Superintendent of Jail concerned, nor he can well rest any apprehension, that during his transit from the jail concerned, up to the Court of the jurisdictional Magistrate concerned, he is likely to be eliminated in a fake encounter, rather by the Punjab police. Reiteratively all the above-nursed apprehensions, do, in the wake of all above, rather conspicuously become completely effaced. 

Accordingly, the Court held that when a genuine apprehension spurs qua the present petitioner, being likely to be lawfully arrested in respect of the petition FIR, thereupon, he may avail the appropriate remedies. 

Therefore, the instantly availed remedy was held by Justice Thakur to be “completely premature” and was thus dismissed as such. 

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