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Supreme Court Dismisses Transfer Plea of Dera Sacha Sauda Members In Matter Pertaining To Sacrilege Of Holy Book

Radhika Roy
26 Nov 2020 3:46 AM GMT
Supreme Court Dismisses Transfer Plea of Dera Sacha Sauda Members In Matter Pertaining To Sacrilege Of Holy Book
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Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the transfer petition filed by members of Dera Sacha Sauda wherein they sought for the transfer of cases pertaining to sacrilege outside of the State of Punjab.A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted in the Order that "The transfer of trial from one State to another would inevitably reflect on the credibility of the State's judiciary....

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Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the transfer petition filed by members of Dera Sacha Sauda wherein they sought for the transfer of cases pertaining to sacrilege outside of the State of Punjab.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted in the Order that "The transfer of trial from one State to another would inevitably reflect on the credibility of the State's judiciary. Except for compelling factors and clear situation of deprivation of fair justice, the transfer power should not be evoked".

Accordingly, the plea seeking for transfer of trial of criminal cases pending before the Courts at Bhatinda, Moga and Faridkot districts to competent Court in Delhi or to any nearby State, out of Punjab, was dismissed.

The criminal cases before the Trial court pertain to the alleged sacrilege of the holy book, Shri Guru Granth Sahibji, in different places in Punjab by the members of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a controversial sect which is headed by convicted murderer and rapist Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

It has been averred by the Petitioners that the matter has generated "deep anguish and bitterness" amongst a particular religious group which forms the majority of the population in the State, and therefore the Petitioners face "bias and prejudice and are unlikely to get a fair trial in the face of strong presumption of culpability".

The Petitioners have further contended that the communally charged atmosphere in the State casts a reasonable apprehension that "fair trial is a near impossibility" and that there exists a threat to the lives of the accused at the hands of radical elements in the State.

Further, it has been submitted that public appeals have been made to socially boycott the accused as well as those dealing with them, such as their lawyers, doctors and even taxi drivers. In light of the above, it was stated that the Petitioners would not be provided a fair trial and sought for transfer of the cases out of Punjab. |

The Supreme Court, however, observed that the projection of surcharged atmosphere was not evident from the corresponding reaction of the Petitioners, who were out on bail and going about their routine affairs - "If their threat perceptions were genuine, they could not have gone about their normal ways. For this reason, the Court is inclined to believe that the atmosphere in the State just not justify the shifting of the trial venue to another State".

Stating that the powers of the Apex Court under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be exercised sparingly and only in deserving cases when fair and impartial trial is uninfluenced by external factors, the Single-Judge Bench dismissed the transfer petition.


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