Punjab tells HC its officers held; Haryana, Delhi deny

The drama involving Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga played out not just on the highway but also inside two courtrooms – one in Chandigarh and the other in Dwarka in Delhi.

As a Punjab Police team took Bagga away, and his father filed a complaint at the Janakpuri police station alleging he had been abducted, the Delhi Police filed an FIR and its inspector Antariksh approached the Dwarka court for a search warrant.

This was granted by Metropolitan Magistrate Neetika Kapoor, who stated in the warrant: “This is to authorise and require you to search (for) Tejinder Pal Singh Bagga … as submitted by SHO and if found, to produce the same forthwith before this court, returning this warrant, with an endorsement, certifying what you have done under it, immediately upon its execution.”

With Delhi Police bringing Bagga back from Kurukshetra, the BJP leader was produced at the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Gurgaon residence Friday night. His advocate Sanket Gupta, who accompanied him, said: “As per his MLC (medico-legal case) report, he suffered an injury on his back and shoulder during the incident.”

The other hearing played out at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where the Punjab government filed a habeas corpus, petitioning the challenging detention of its police officers in Haryana and Delhi. In response, the two states submitted status reports later in the evening, denying having made any such detention.

The bench of Justice Lalit Batra adjourned the case for Saturday and also turned down the request of the Punjab government to keep Bagga in Haryana.

On the status reports filed by Haryana and Delhi, senior advocate Puneet Bali, counsel for Punjab Police, later said, “It’s a wrong submission by the State of Haryana and Delhi. We will see what action to take to get back Bagga’s custody.”

The Punjab government had sought directions to the respondents to release Punjab Police inspector Shiv Kumar, woman sub inspector Reena, ASIs Amandeep Verma, Deepak Singh and Gurpartap Singh, constables Amritpal Singh, Satnam Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Harinder Singh, Rajbir Singh and Simranjit Singh immediately.

The petition said they had been detained by the Haryana Police while taking Bagga to Mohali after arresting him from Delhi.

Punjab Advocate General Anmol Rattan Sidhu said the police officers had arrested Bagga on May 6 from Janakpuri in Delhi, and the entire proceedings were video-recorded.

The petition contended that earlier, the Delhi Police had illegally detained Mohali Deputy Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Kuljinder Singh Sandhu when he went to the Janakpuri police station to intimate them about Bagga’s arrest and make a diary entry.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Sandhu alleged that he and two other officers of the Punjab Police had been “detained at Janakpuri police station”. “I suspect there was some pressure on Delhi Police. We were first offered tea. And after police officers in Janakpuri learned that a Punjab Police team had come to arrest Bagga, they dilly-dallied. I suspect Bagga was informed that a police team from Punjab had come to arrest him. Our other team made sure he could not abscond,” he said, adding, “We told Janakpuri police officers that Bagga was wanted in a police case registered against him in Mohali.”

In the evening, Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan, filing the status report on behalf of Anshu Singh, SP, Kurukshetra, submitted that they received a message from Delhi Police saying that a “kidnapped person, namely, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga from Janakpuri, Delhi”, was being taken away in a Bolero along with two/three more vehicles.” “Pursuant to said message, the said vehicle was made to stop at village Khanpur Kolian by the Traffic Police, Kurukshetra.” The report further stated that another vehicle was also made to stop, in which Manpreet Singh, PPS, Superintendent of Police (Rural), Mohali, was sitting along with other officers and Bagga.

The report said that in the meantime Superintendent of Police, Ambala, arrived at the spot and informed Ghanshyam Bansal, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi (West), who told them that a police team headed by Prashant Gautam, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police ( West), was on the way. The report said the Delhi Police arrived at police station Sadar in Kurukshetra, identified Bagga, and produced an FIR registered at Janakpuri police station (based on a complaint by his father) as well as search warrants issued by Neetika Kapoor, Metropolitan Magistrate-11, Dwarka district court for production of Bagga in the court.

The reports stated “in terms of deliberations made by Delhi Police and Punjab Police and further in pursuant to the search warrant issued by Delhi court, custody of Bagga was handed over to the Delhi Police.”

The report maintained that Punjab Police officers were not detained in any manner and they sat in the room of the Sadar SHO on their own and they were requested to proceed to their destination as no further action was required in the matter.

Satya Pal Jain, Additional Solicitor General who represented Delhi Police, submitted: “In pursuant to registration of FIR dated May 6 at the instance of Bagga’s father, search warrant… was obtained from Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, and further wireless message was flashed to intercept and trace the abducted person.”

He said that the Delhi Police rescued Bagga after receiving information from the Kurukshetra Police, and that he was being brought back to Delhi to be produced in the court concerned. He said no officer of the Punjab Police had been detained at Janakpuri police station.

Earlier, appearing for Punjab Police, senior advocate Bali said Punjab police personnel were still under the illegal confinement of the Haryana Police officers, purely for political reasons, with a view to wreak political vengeance since the accused was affiliated to a political party. He said Bagga’s arrest was effected purely in accordance with law and there was no protection granted to him by any court. Bali said an environment of unrest was created because of the connivance between Haryana and Delhi.

ASG Jain, who represented Delhi Police, said Bagga had been picked up from his residence by Punjab Police “without informing Delhi Police”, and his father lodged an FIR saying his son had been kidnapped. “We lodged an FIR on that. After lodging the FIR, because it was a case of kidnapping and Punjab Police had not informed Delhi Police about his arrest, we approached the court that we need a search warrant because he might be kept somewhere here and there. Under the law, there is a provision for obtaining a search warrant. When we flashed the search warrant, it was found that some people were taking him in a van. They were apprehended near Pipli. When they were apprehended, Delhi Police was informed that the man was here. On the basis of the search warrant, Delhi Police took custody of Bagga,” he said.

— With Navjeevan Gopal

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