SC quashes criminal charges against Badals in forgery case - Hindustan Times
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SC quashes criminal charges against Badals in forgery case over SAD’s dual constitution

Apr 29, 2023 10:11 AM IST

SC bench said: “We have considered the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and observed that none of the ingredients of, the offences are made out. ”

The Supreme Court on Friday quashed criminal proceedings against Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and five-time Punjab chief minister, the late Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and senior leader Daljit Singh Cheema, pending in a Hoshiarpur court in an alleged case of forgery and cheating related to the party’s dual constitution.

Criminal proceedings against Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and five-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (left), who passed away on Tuesday, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and senior leader Daljit Singh Cheema have been quashed by the Supreme Court in an alleged case of forgery and cheating related to the SAD’s dual constitution. (HT file photo)
Criminal proceedings against Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and five-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (left), who passed away on Tuesday, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and senior leader Daljit Singh Cheema have been quashed by the Supreme Court in an alleged case of forgery and cheating related to the SAD’s dual constitution. (HT file photo)

Delivering the judgment on the special leave petitions filed by the SAD leaders, a Bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar, observed: “The ingredients of the offences under Sections 415, 420, 465, 466, 467, 468, 471, 191 and 192 of the Indian Penal Code were not made out.”

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Senior advocates KV Vishwanathan, RS Cheema, Virinder Pal Singh Sandhu and Sandeep Kapur appeared for the SAD leaders, while Prashant Bhushan and Indira Unninayar appeared on behalf of the complainant, Balwant Singh Khera.

The counsel for the petitioners argued before the court that being religious does not run contrary to the principles of secularism and merely because a political outfit is contesting elections to a gurdwara committee does not mean that it is not secular. It was argued that the criminal case with allegations of forgery and cheating over the constitution of the party filed before the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Gurdwara Commission had no basis.

The court quashed and set the impugned order, including the trial court summons to the SAD leaders.

“We have considered the relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and observed that even taking in to consideration the allegations, none of the ingredients of, the offences are made out. Therefore, the (Punjab and Haryana) high court ought to have quashed and set aside the summoning orders. Even assuming the complainant’s averments to be true, the ingredients of the offences are not made out. The summoning order by the trial court is nothing but an abuse of the process of law and this is a ground for quashing the entire criminal proceedings, including the summoning orders,” the apex court pronounced.

The apex court, however, clarified that the present judgment would have no bearing on the proceedings in the Delhi high court that is hearing another petition filed by Khera, seeking de-recognition of SAD as political party.

In November last year, the Supreme Court had stayed the proceedings against the SAD in the Hoshiarpur court and issued notice to the respondents. .The Punjab and Haryana high court had dismissed the plea of Badals and Cheema that the case filed against them in 2019 under Sections 420, 465, 466, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code be quashed. The party had challenged the high court’s orders in the apex court.

In his complaint to the additional chief judicial magistrate, Hoshiarpur, Khera had alleged that the SAD had committed an offence by submitting two constitutions; one with the Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC) wherein it claimed to be a religious party and the other with the Election Commission of India (ECI), by giving a declaration that it adhered to principles of secularism, to seek recognition as a political party.

The court had summoned the party leaders to respond to the allegations. They even had to secure bails from the court.

Reacting Friday’s verdict, Khera said he would file a review petition in the court. Daljit Singh Cheema welcomed the order, saying it was a tribute to Badal Sahab, who passed away on Tuesday.

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