The Uttarakhand High Court dismissed the petition filed by retired IAS officer Harbans Singh Chugh seeking to quash FIR against him in connection with the murder case of Baba Tarsem Singh, head of Sri Nanakmatta Sahib Gurdwara Dera Kar Seva.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Rakesh Thapliyal observed that, "Law is very well settled that until and unless a case is made out for quashing of the First Information Report, no interim protection can be given. Apart from this, if such a protection is given during investigation, then to some extent it may interfere with the investigation and in such a situation, particularly when there is a serious crime committed by the two shooters, came from outside the State, stayed in the premises of the Society for 10 days and successfully committed the crime, the Court should not interfere with the investigation. This is not the stage when any opinion should be given about the involvement of the petitioner otherwise it amounts to interfere with the investigation."

Senior Counsel Arvind Vashisth and Counsel Vikas Kumar Guglani appeared for the petitioner, while GA Amit Bhatt, along with others, appeared for the respondents.

Baba Tarsem Singh was tragically murdered on March 28, 2024, at Nanakmatta Sahib Gurdwara in Uttarakhand by two assailants on motorcycles. Among those named in the FIR for his murder was Harbansh Singh Chugh, the President of Gurudwara Prabandhak Samiti and a former IAS officer.

The FIR alleged that Baba Tarsem Singh had been protecting Dera Kar Seva's property from vandalism, which displeased Chugh and two others. Chugh sought relief from the Court, arguing that the FIR did not establish a prima facie offense against him and should therefore be quashed.

Chugh's counsel emphasized his distinguished career in public service and his unblemished record, both during his tenure as an IAS officer and post-retirement. They claimed that certain individuals, motivated by malice, falsely implicated Chugh in the murder case due to resentment over reformative measures he had implemented.

The State, however, opposed Chugh's plea to quash the FIR. They pointed out that the two perpetrators of the murder had stayed at a Sarai in Nanakmatta Sahib for nearly 10 days before the incident, a facility under Chugh's supervision. The investigating officer was looking into the purpose of their stay, their associates, and any connections they might have had during that time.

The State argued that it was customary to report any outsider staying for more than two days to the police, as per Sarai rules that limit stays to three days. They asserted that the circumstances surrounding the shooters' extended stay under Chugh's supervision were part of the ongoing investigation and requested that no relief be granted to Chugh at this stage.

The High Court took the considered view that when the investigation of a cognizable offence is going on and at various stages thereon including the interrogation of the accused is required, is exclusively the domains of the investigating agency and these powers are admittedly unfettered so long as the Investigating Officer exercises his investigating powers well within the provisions of law.

The Court found no merit in the petition, and observed that, "It is very surprising that the status of the petitioner and his antecedents are taken as a ground for quashing of the FIR. In the entire writ petition including in the supplementary affidavit, there is not a single whisper whether this is a fit case of quashing of FIR. Merely by giving the status of the petitioner that he was a senior bureaucrat, holding key posts in the State of U.P. as well as in the State of Uttarakhand has no relevance at all when the investigating agency is conducting the investigation which is their statutory powers in respect of a crime which appears to be a very serious."

In light of the same, the petition was dismissed.

Cause Title: Harbans Singh Chugh vs State of Uttarakhand and others

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