Near about two decade later, Punjab and Haryana high court orders of instant trail against the cops who involved in the in systematic and wide-spread extra-judicial killings, fake encounters and enforced disappearances in Punjab. The court upheld the trial court order and said that that Central government’s sanction for prosecuting police officials accused of fake encounters and extra-judicial killings would arise only after prosecution had presented its evidence. The court said that such sanction was not required at the initial stage of trial and directed the trial court to proceed on expeditiously in these cases and frame a schedule for recording evidence of prosecution at the earliest.In the 77-page judgment on 27 petitions involving nearly 50 police officials, Justice Surinder Gupta rejected the Punjab government’s contention that the police officials had risked their lives to bring out the state from a grave situation during ‘90s and “now prosecuting for the act done by them during discharge of their duties will affect morale of police force”. The petitioners had cited Section 6 of the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act or Section 197 of CrPC in support of their contention that sanction for prosecution was required for the initiation of trial.“After filing of chargesheet in these cases a long period has lapsed and the prosecution evidence is yet to start. It is neither in the interest of prosecution nor petitioners that sword of prosecution keeps on hanging over their heads for such a long period. The trial court is stated to proceed further in the matter quickly and made a schedule for recording evidence of prosecution at the earliest and then to allow petitioners to lead defence evidence, if required, in support of their plea,” the final order read. CBI found that majority of the encounter was fake and staged during the investigation, which were related to the 1990s. In 2001, when the chargesheet was filed in the cases in the CBI special court at Patiala, the accused policemen raised the objection saying there is no sanction order for their prosecution from the Centre.They approached the High Court, which even at that time, dismissed their plea, after which they approached the Supreme Court. The apex court sent the case back to the trial court for a “fresh look”, but in 2016, the trial court held its ground and ordered that it would look into the question of sanction at a later stage, after assessing the evidence against the officers. The officials again approached the High Court against the trial court order, which had been under stay since 2016, and seeking discharge of the cases against them. That stay ended on December 20, and the High Court’s order was made public today.Justice Gupta, in his order, has observed that the prosecution has to be allowed the opportunity to present evidence and the trial court can decide the question of legal sanction only after that. “It is only after conclusion of evidence of prosecution that the court on the basis of defence evidence or the material placed on record can come to the conclusion as to which version i.e of prosecution or the defence is correct and then decide as to whether sanction for prosecution is required or not,” the order said.
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