Punjab & Haryana High Court Grants Relief To Ex-CM Channi, Asks Trial Court To Adjourn Proceedings In Election Code Violation Case
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday directed the trial court to adjourn the proceedings against Punjab's former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, in the case alleging that he along with singer Sidhu Moosewala campaigned beyond the permissible time limit during the assembly elections held last year, to a date after February 20.
Moosewala - who was killed in May last year, was Congress' candidate from Mansa constituency. Channi had received summons to appear before the trial court on January 12.
Justice Raj Mohan Singh granted the relief to Channi and adjourned the petition for hearing on February 20. The order was passed on Channi's petition for quashing the FIR registered against him and for staying proceedings during the pendency of his petition.
As per the FIR, Channi was campaigning in Mansa, along with Moosewala, even after 6 PM, which was the time limit set for all canvassing activities to stop. They were allegedly going door to door along with some 400-500 party workers.
The FIR further stated that the Election Observer, Mansa received a complaint from Dr. Vijay Singla, the Aam Aadmi Candidate who was later declared the winner, upon which a complaint was made to the District Election officer-cum Deputy Commissioner, Mansa for taking legal action. Subsequently, the District Election Officer-cum Deputy Commissioner, Mansa made a complaint to the SHO for getting the present FIR registered.
Accordingly, the FIR came to be registered under Section 188 of the IPC for violating the Section 144 CrPC orders passed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa.
The petitioner submitted that after investigation, the police filed a final report under Section 173(2) of the CrPC, subsequent to which multiple notices were issued to him for appearance before the trial court. Vide order dated 18.11.2022, a fresh summons was issued to the petitioner, demanding his appearance before the Chief Judicial Magistrate on 12.01.2023.
Calling this an “abuse of the process of law,” the counsels for the petitioner contended that for an offence under Section 188 of the IPC, the CJM, Mansa could not have taken cognizance except on a complaint made by the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa who had issued the order dated 14.02.2022 under Section 144 CrPC. Accordingly, the cognizance taken by the CJM, Mansa on the basis of the Final Report under Section 173(2) of the CrPC was specifically barred under Section 195 of the CrPC, it has been argued.
Reliance was placed by the petitioner on the Supreme Court decisions in C. Muniappan and Other v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2010) 9 SCC 567, Daulat Ram v. State of Punjab, AIR 1962 SC 1206 and Saloni Arora versus State (NCT of Delhi), (2017) 3 SCC 286, inter alia.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Bipan Ghai in the case filed through Advocates Nikhil Ghai, Paras Talwar, Deepanshu Mehta, Amanpreet Singh Pannu and Prabhdeep Singh Bindra.
Case Title: Charanjit Singh @ Channi v. State of Punjab
Coram: Justice Raj Mohan Singh
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