The decision of the CBI to constitute special investigating team to probe the cases relating to sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari and related incidents nullifies the unanimous resolution adopted by the Punjab Assembly after a 7-hour debate on August 28, 2018 that was boycotted by the Akali Dal, the party that was in power when these incidents rocked the state in 2015. Punjab withdrew the probe from the CBI following this resolution.
The investigation to the CBI was handed over by the Akali Dal government. The CBI informed the special court at Mohali on September 25 about the decision to constitute the SIT saying the basis for handing over the probe was the letter earlier written by Punjab Bureau of Investigation chief Prabodh Kumar.
This letter was written objecting to the closure report filed by the central probe agency. It is significant that it is Prabodh Kumar who heads the 5-member SIT that was constituted by the Punjab government following the resolution adopted by the Assembly.
The CBI probe was supposed to have been withdrawn following the letter written by the Punjab government to that effect after constituting the 5-member SIT that is now non-functional due to sharp differences among members.
Now the court would decide on this step taken by the CBI at the next hearing on October 30 in view of the closure report filed earlier.
The CBI decision to constitute the SIT and that too on the basis of the letter written by the Punjab officer concerned is multidimensional.
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday reacted strongly to the CBI decision saying, “They are obliged in law to hand over all the papers to us so that, as desired by the Vidhan Sabha, our SIT can take things in their own hand, and what they could not do in three years, the state police may be able to do in a shorter period”.
His reaction is appropriate except the fact that he had earlier justified the letter written by Prabodh Kumar on behalf of the government to the CBI to continue with the probe as several aspects were involved.
He said in his interview that appeared in an English daily on September 24, “Prabodh did the right thing. If he had not written to the CBI and told them they have no business to file the closure report, the case would have been over. He did the correct thing by writing to them”.
Here is from his same statement, “Even as the state government formally contested, in court, the CBI’s decision to hand over the Bargari investigation to a Special Investigation Team (SIT), the Chief Minister said the CBI, clearly acting under pressure from the central government at the behest of the Badals, was quite obviously trying to stop the probe from going forward. The decision to hand over the case to a new SIT three months after it had filed a closure report in court was a clear ploy to delay the probe and stop the state government from taking over”.
And the CBI has justified its decision citing this very letter written by Prabodh Kumar that the Chief Minister justified two days back. Then where is the problem?
The second dimension is that of contempt of the Assembly as the CBI has over-ruled the resolution adopted by the House to withdraw probe from the CBI.
Rules 252 to 262 deal with the issue of Privilege and the contempt falls under this section. Normally, the notice has to be given to the Speaker raising the issue of contempt or privilege.
However, Rule 262 can be interpreted to mean that the Speaker can take suo motto notice. It states, “Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, the Speaker may refer any question of privilege to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation or report”.
The CBI decision to constitute SIT to probe Bargari probe is contempt of the House of which the Speaker can take suo motto notice.
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