Chandigarh: Former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini was released from vigilance custody early Friday on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which termed his arrest in a cheating and forgery case as illegal.
A single bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi pronounced the verdict on Thursday night.
Saini was arrested by the state's Vigilance Bureau on Wednesday night in connection with a case registered in September 2020 for cheating, forgery, corruption and other offences.
After the high court order, Saini, who was at Mohali court premises, was released. Saini left the Mohali court complex at around 2 AM.
The former DGP was produced before a Mohali court at around 12:30 pm on Thursday for seeking remand. He remained there for more than 12 hours.
The court held that Saini's arrest was illegal and in violation of earlier court orders.
"In view of the above referred judicial precedents and above discussed facts and circumstances of the case evidencing illegality of the arrest of the detenue, the habeas corpus petition is allowed and the detenue is held to have been illegally arrested in circumvented violation of protection orders dated 11.10.2018 and 23.09.2020 and interim anticipatory bail order dated 12.08.2021 passed by the Co-ordinate Bench of this Court," the order said.
"Therefore, the detenue is ordered to be released forthwith," according to the court order which was uploaded on the high court website past midnight.
The case so far
Saini, a 1982-batch IPS officer, was appointed the Director General of Police (DGP) in 2012. He was removed from the post in 2015 after protests erupted over a series of sacrilege incidents. He retired in 2018.
The high court on October 11, 2018 had held that Saini would be served a seven-day notice if any action was to be contemplated against him.
In the September 23, 2020 order, the court had extended the protection of the October 2018 order to any incident during Saini's entire service career.
The court also ordered that a seven-day prior notice is to be given if he is to be arrested in this case.
The order came after hearing two petitions. One petition was habeas corpus and another to seek protection as per the last year's high court order in which it was directed to give a seven-day notice before arresting in any case pertaining to any incident during Saini's entire service career.
The high court on August 12 had granted interim anticipatory bail to Saini in a disproportionate assets case that was registered against him and six others on August 2. But the court had asked him to join the investigation within a week.
Saini was arrested on Wednesday night when he had arrived at the Vigilance Bureau headquarters in Mohali to join investigation in a disproportionate assets case.
According to the Vigilance Bureau, he has been arrested under several sections, including 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The case was registered on September 2020 against Davinder Singh Sandhu, director of WWICS Estates Private Ltd, Ashok Sikka PCS officer (now retired), and some other officials of the local government department for illegal change of land use for a piece of land at Kurali with fake documents.
Later, the Vigilance Bureau booked PWD executive engineer Nimratdeep Singh, his father Surinderjit Singh Jaspal and some other persons for allegedly receiving a bribe from Davinder Sandhu for getting the colonies set up at Kurali certified.
The bureau claimed that the money received was used for purchasing a house in Chandigarh's Sector 20 in which Saini later stayed as a tenant.
In May 2020, Saini was also booked in the case of disappearance of Balwant Singh Multani in 1991. Multani was then a junior engineer with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)