Nothing stops Punjab govt from acting on STF report, says lawyer pursuing case; AG differs

Navkiran Singh said that the Congress government was taking the excuse that STF report and the government’s opinion on it are in sealed covers with the High Court and therefore it cannot proceed in the case without the court’s nod

On the day when the Punjab and Haryana High Court advanced the hearing in the Punjab drugs case to October 13, Advocate Navkiran Singh of Lawyers for Human Rights International, who is pursuing the case in the court, said that there was no restriction placed on the Punjab government by the HC that stops it from taking action against those found prima facie guilty in the STF report in the matter. Punjab Advocate General A P S Deol, however, argued against it saying that it would be ‘ethically’ wrong to proceed in the matter without the court’s nod.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Navkiran Singh said that the Congress government was taking the excuse that STF report and the government’s opinion on it are in sealed covers with the High Court and therefore it cannot proceed in the case without the court’s nod.

“This is nothing but an excuse to not act in the case. Till date, there is no stay on any action proposed by the Punjab government in the STF report and it is with deliberate intention of delaying the matter that the state government is dragging its feet over the same,” he said.

Reacting to the contentions by Navkiran, the Advocate General, APS Deol, said that the proceedings in the High Court are in progress because the court has taken notice of the issue on its own accord.
“The state government has not even filed an FIR in the case. How can it take any action when the court on its own motion is inquiring into it. There is no stay on anything, but it is not ethical to proceed without the High Court’s nod when they sought the government’s opinion on the STF report and are yet to pass an order on it,” said Deol.

The AG added that the new dispensation in the state government has no intention of dragging the case.
“Today when an application was made for speedy conclusion of the case, I did not oppose it. This makes our intentions very clear. Things are now not as they were earlier,” Deol said.

Rebutting Deol’s arguments, Navkiran Singh said that once the state government has realised that an offence has been committed, after perusing the contents of the STF report, and deliberated on its contents, it is incumbent upon it to act immediately against the crime rather than wait inordinately for a green signal which is not even needed.

“The intentions of the new dispensation are also exposed by the fact that they never made an application in the court for a speedy conclusion….A P S Deol should have done so on the very next day after taking over as AG. And as far as not opposing my application for speedy conclusion is concerned, even the previous AG Atul Nanda never opposed this in court and yet the matter dragged on,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the president of Punjab Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, tweeted that there was hope of the facts in the STF report coming to light at the High Court’s hearing. However, just a few months back, Sidhu was accusing Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh of not acting on the STF report and not making it public despite the court asking the government to act.

Holding a press conference at his Patiala residence in April this year, Sidhu had questioned why the state government was not making the report public and acting on it.

“STF was formed under an honest officer and crores of rupees were spent on the investigation. The report with all evidence and names of accused were submitted to the High Court. When people knocked the doors of the High Court on delay in the case, the court told the state government that here is the report now take action. The report also got leaked in the media and I held a press conference on it and showed the evidence but the government says that we have not read the report. Mothers lost their children and lakhs of families were ruined. Is this issue not that important that you read the report and take action on it? Can this be digested that government has not read the report,” he had questioned at the time.
Sidhu had gone on to say that the report had been submitted to the AG and then onwards to the state government.

“The government is sitting on that report till now. I want to ask ‘why’. What is the reason? That is why I say make it public,” he had gone on to say.

Navkiran Singh said that now was the time for Sidhu to walk the talk and ensure that the report was made public now that Capt Amarinder had been removed from office.

“What is stopping the new Congress CM and Cabinet from making the report public,” he asked.

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