Apex court stays trial of five Punjab policemen


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday stayed the trial of five Punjab policemen accused of committing excesses during anti-terrorist campaign in the state in the 1980s and 1990s.

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A bench of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra issued notice to the Punjab government on the policemen’s petition challenging a May 14 Punjab and Haryana High Court order.

The five, charged with killing four people in a staged gunfight in Gurdaspur in January 1994, contended that they cannot be proceeded against without prior sanction of the central government under the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, 1983.

Punjab Police counsel Sudhir Walia assailed the trial court’s decision to proceed against the personnel without government sanction.

Walia told the court that the central government had taken such a stand in a similear but earlier case.

The petition said the high court, while dismissing the policemen’s plea, “only relied upon the version of the complainant and failed to take notice of the official record of the state government”.

The petition said the high court made observations which amounted to pronouncing the police personnel guilty of “heinous crimes”.

According to the policemen, they were part of a 68-member team that took part in an anti-terrorist operation in Kunjhar village Jan 25, 1994 in which four militants were killed.

The investigating agency had accused them of seizing the victims from their homes and other places and torturing them to death.

The apex court Sep 12, 1994 ordered a CBI probe into the incident.