Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu
| Chandigarh |
February 25, 2021 9:13:04 am
A sign board for the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh. (Express Photo: Jaipal Singh)
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed the plea of two convicts seeking suspension of their sentence in a case of ‘waging war against India’ wherein three people had been convicted by the court of SBS Nagar, Nawanshahr, Punjab.
The petitioners, Arwinder Singh and Surjit Singh, moved HC for grant of suspension of sentence in connection with the FIR dated May 24, 2016, under sections 121 (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India) and 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121) of the IPC and sections 10 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The applicants-appellants had been accused of inciting people to resort to violence with the objective of waging war against India, with a view to establish an independent state/nation by the name ‘Khalistan’ by way of liberating Sikhs from India or Indian rule.
The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the appellants have been falsely implicated in the instant case only on the basis of literature, books and pamphlets recovered and material shared on Facebook by one of the appellants, namely, Arwinder Singh. It was further submitted that the entire case of the prosecution revolves around the disclosure statements of the appellants, which are inadmissible in evidence, as those were recorded in police custody. The passports so recovered from the appellants were genuine and possession of posters/flexes and other material allegedly recovered from the appellants does not attract the provision of any of the offence, the counsel argued.
The counsel also submitted that neither any weapon of any kind nor any explosive substance was found in possession of any of the appellants and, therefore, it will be a “far-fetched” argument that the appellants intended to wage war or even attempted to wage war against the Government of India or even conspired to commit such offence. “Nothing tangible has been brought on record that the appellants were members of the banned ‘Babbar Khalsa International’ or they have ever committed, abetted, advocated, advised or incited the commission of any unlawful activity. None of the material recovered from the possession of the appellants was banned,” the counsel argued.
Thus, it was contended that the appellants, who have already undergone actual sentence of approximately 4 years and 8 months, the concession of suspension of sentence may kindly be extended.
The state counsel in reply submitted: “Arwinder Singh, being an active member of banned terrorists group Babbar Khalsa International, was inciting the young Sikhs followers to join the said organization. All the appellants waged war against India and indulged in anti-national activities. Arwinder Singh instigated and inspired applicant Surjit Singh alias Lucky personally on Facebook for encouraging armed struggle. The recovery of the printed material from the possession of the appellants was sufficient to incite and encourage the young generation to involve themselves in the anti-national activities. They were propagating the cause of Khalistan and in the given circumstances, no concession of suspension of sentence should be extended to them.”
The division bench of Justices Jaswant Singh and Sant Parkash after hearing the arguments, held, “…it is not a fit case where the concession of suspension of the remaining sentence of the applicants-appellants can be extended. It has been established on record that incriminating material, propagating the cause of Khalistan was recovered from the possession of the applicants-appellants. A reasonable inference can be drawn that the primary object of keeping and distributing such material was the establishment of Khalistan on Baisakhi…”
The bench thus dismissing the plea, said, “The appellants kept the aforesaid material with them with the intention of using the same for propaganda and inciting the people to resort to violence with a view to wage war against the Government of India, so that an independent State/Nation in the name of Khalistan be formed. The offence, alleged to have been committed are very serious in nature and in the given circumstances, we do not find any merit in the instant application.”