Saturday, September 18, 2021

6-month deadline in Kotakpura case set by HC, but SIT free to complete probe earlier: Punjab govt

A Punjab government spokesperson on Sunday made it clear that the 6-month time-frame for the new SIT to conclude the investigation into the Kotkapura firing case was not set by the state government but by the High Court.

The new Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted by the state government on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was not, however, barred by the court to complete the probe earlier, even within two months if possible, said the spokesperson.

Pointing to the High Court order dated April 9, 2021, the spokesperson observed that as per Direction (vii),

“the  investigation of these FIRs shall be concluded as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months from the date of the constitution of SIT”. This court direction has been simply reproduced in the SIT re-constitution notification issued by the state government, which has been specifically barred from interfering in any manner, as per Direction (ii) and (iv) of the order, said the spokesperson.

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As evident from the court directive, the period of 6 months is an upper/outer limit which has been imposed by the High Court, the spokesperson pointed out, adding that the SIT is free to conclude investigation before that.

Reacting to criticism of the government on the 6-month deadline, the spokesperson said it was clear that the notification, and the intent, of the state government had been misread and misconstrued by certain elements, motivated by vested political interests.

The Captain Amarinder led government, said the spokesperson, is totally committed to ensuring a free and fair investigation into the incident, to ensure justice for the innocent and punishment for the guilty. In accordance with this commitment, the state government had set up the new SIT instead of merely contesting the court’s decision to quash the earlier SIT’s investigations, he added.

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The new SIT has the clear mandate to start work immediately and take the investigations to their logical conclusion, with total compliance with the directions of the High Court, which has stipulated that there would be not interference from any quarter, external or internal, in the investigation process. Any deviation from the court orders will only make the SIT vulnerable to action against it by the courts, which would merely delay the whole process instead of expediting it, the spokesperson further noted.

The spokesperson further said that the SIT had already conducted its first meeting virtually on May 8, a day after it was constituted, and started the process of investigations by summoning the case file and other relevant records from the Faridkot court.

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