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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Supreme Court reverses High Court order

The Supreme Court has reversed the Punjab and Haryana High Court's earlier decision that Sukhmohinder Singh could be promoted to the Indian Police Service (IPS) even though he was charged in a criminal case.

Although Sukhmohinder Singh had retired in 2004, and has also been charged in three disappearance cases from over ten years ago, the Punjab government brought him back from retirement to serve an additional year. When that year of service ended, the Punjab government decided to induct Sukhmohinder Singh to the IPS, even though the disappearance cases were pending against him.

Sukhmohinder Singh is one of three police officers charged with the sudden disappearance of the three brothers. One of the police officers was alleged to have a family dispute with the brothers. Neither the brothers nor their bodies have been found.

Two men seeking promotion to the IPS appealed the Punjab government's move to promote Sukhmohinder Singh, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the appeal.

It held that even though chargesheet had been filed by the CBI, no charge had been framed against the officer and hence criminal proceedings could not be said to be pending against him.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed, stating that:

"Filing of charge-sheet is preceded by an indepth investigation. Charges are filed in court when a prima facie case is established. �. The dangerous interpretation assigned to the statute by the High Court would negate the intendment of the Legislature. In our view, the High Court has committed grave fundamental error of law and the same is unsustainable in law," the Bench held.

This Supreme Court order will also affect other cases; the Union Government is reported to have at least ten requests from state governments wishing to apply the High Court order to officers charged with serious crimes. Following the Supreme Court order, the Union Government is now planning to rescind Sukhmohinder Singh's promotion to the IPS.

[This entry is cross-posted on ENSAAF's blog.]


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