Chandigarh, February 7: A former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Ranjit Singh, has filed a criminal complaint against former Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for his utterances against the commission of inquiry he was heading for looking into the sacrilege cases in Punjab during the previous SAD-BJP regime.
Available information suggests Justice Ranjit Singh has invoked the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act for seeking action against Sukhbir. Section 10-A of the Act deals with penalty for acts calculated to bring the commission or any of its members into disrepute.
If Justice Ranjit Singh’s first-of-its-kind plea is allowed, Sukhbir may face proceedings for simple imprisonment for up to six months, or fine, or both.
The provisions say: “If any person, by words either spoken or intended to be read, makes or publishes any statement or does any other act, which is calculated to bring the Commission or any member thereof into disrepute, he shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend up to six months, or with fine, or with both.”
The section also makes it clear that the High Court may take cognizance of such offence, without the case being committed to it, upon a complaint in writing, made by a member of a Commission or its officer authorised in this behalf.
Justice Ranjit Singh is believed to have referred to more than one instance where Sukhbir in press conferences and otherwise had made statements against the commission and its head, which allegedly brought it disrepute.
Justice Ranjit Singh had earlier also suggested initiation of appropriate action under Section 10-A against political leaders using disrespectful language against the commissions due to political considerations.
The suggestion came in response to a Punjab and Haryana High Court communication asking former judges appointed as “commissions” whether due courtesies were being extended to them by the government functionaries.
The commission was set up in April 2017 by the Congress government in Punjab soon after it came to power in March 2017. In fact, the setting up of the commission was one of the first decisions taken by the government.
The Justice Ranjit Singh commission had, during the course of its functioning virtually lambasted Sukhbir for spreading “falsehood” and “misinformation”.
In a communication to Sukhbir, Justice Ranjit Singh had asserted: “Instead of resorting to spreading falsehood and misinformation, you have better option to appear before the commission and disclose the information available with you.”
Justice Ranjit Singh said the commission, ignoring his insinuatory utterances, would still call upon him to assist it in its pious and onerous task. There was hardly any need to emphasise that judges were well trained to ignore frivolous, false and contemptuous propaganda to concentrate on the assigned task.
(Sourced from The Tribune)