New Delhi, September 15: The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to former Punjab director general of police (DGP) Sumedh Singh Saini in the 1991 alleged murder case of a junior engineer, Balwant Singh Multani.

A bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and MR Shah sought response from the Punjab government on Saini’s plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana high court order refusing to grant him anticipatory bail in the case, Hindustan Times reported.

During the hearing, the bench questioned senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Punjab government, that what is the hurry in arresting Saini after 29 years of the case. Luthra replied that the former DGP having Z-plus security is absconding.

The bench posted the matter for hearing after four weeks and said that Saini is not to be arrested till further orders and he shall cooperate in the investigation.

On September 8, the high court had dismissed Saini’s two pleas, including the one on anticipatory bail, observing that the same cannot be allowed as there is every likelihood of him stifling fair investigation and trial.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi represented Saini, a 1982-batch Indian Police Service officer, who was booked along with six others on May 6 at Mataur police station in Mohali for the alleged kidnapping of Multani. The murder charge was invoked in August after two of the accused policemen turned approvers.

Multani worked with Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (Citco) and was picked up by the police after a terrorist attack on Saini, who was then Chandigarh senior superintendent of police. Saini was injured in the attack and three policemen were killed. Saini retired in 2018 after 36 years of service.

Saini claims that the case against him is an example of “politically motivated conspiracy” by the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab. He says he was granted bail by the trial court after the registration of the FIR, hence, it should continue.

In 2008, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also registered a case against him that was later quashed by the Supreme Court. This is another argument put forward by Saini who added that when Covid-19 was at a peak, under “a politically motivated conspiracy, an FIR was registered against him on the same facts by the state machinery”.

Saini was part of the then director general of police KPS Gill’s team that helped eliminate terrorism in the state. His bail petition mentioned his outstanding service record.

The petition also said that after abatement of terrorism in Punjab, the applicant has been involved in unearthing scams and scandals. He served as head of the state Vigilance Bureau from 2007 to 2012 and during his tenure “a number of criminal cases were registered against members of the political party, which is now in power in the state of Punjab”.

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