The Punjab & Haryana High Court Bar Association in an alleged custodial torture case of a lawyer has decided that all the advocates shall abstain from work till Friday i.e September 29, 2023, to protest the alleged custodial torture of a lawyer by the Punjab Police’s Crime Investigation Agency (CIA). While the State Bar Council has decided to abstain from work from today.

On September 26, 2023, Jasmeet Singh Bhatia, Honorary Secretary, Punjab & Haryana High Court conveyed that, “it has unanimously decided by the General House that the Executive Committee of Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association would meet the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Punjab in the case of Varinder Singh, Advocate practising in the District Court Sri Muktsar Sahib and hand over the charter of demands. Further course of action shall be decided in the General House meeting to be held on 29.09.2023 (Friday) in the Main Bar Room, till then work will remain suspended.”

A Press Note dated September 26 reads:

The following demands are raised before the Hon'ble Chief Minister: Punjab Government for immediate consideration: -

a) False FIR No. 153 dated 15.09.2023 registered U/s 332, 353, 186 and 427 IPC at P.S. City Shri Muktsar Sahib against Adv Varinder Singh Sandhu be cancelled and he be released with immediate effect.

b) All the accused police officials in FIR No. 145 dated 25.09.2023 registered U/s 377. 342, 323, 149, 506 IPC at P.S. Sadar Shri Muktsar Sahib be immediately arrested and all accused as mentioned in the Ld.CIM’s order be arrayed and arrested along with, without delay.

¢) Senior Superintendent of Police, Shri Muktsar Sahib be taken to task and suspended, disciplinary proceedings be initiated and he be transferred from District Sri Muktsar Sahib immediately.

d) Punjab Government or appropriate authority on behalf of the State of Punjab must immediately request for transfer of the investigation in FIR registered against the accused police officials to CBI or any other independent agency outside the State of Punjab.

e) Punjab Government should immediately give Rs. 25 Lakhs as compensation to the victim Advocate Varinder Singh Sandhu.

An FIR had been registered on September 25 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 377 (unnatural sex), 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (causing hurt), 149 (unlawful assembly), and 506 (criminal intimidation) against six police personnel at the Sadar Sri Muktsar Sahib police station related to an alleged torturous attack on an advocate while he was in police custody after a letter was written by the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association to Punjab chief minister seeking the suspension of Sri Muktsar Sahib SSP for allegedly “shielding the erring police officials and for not registering an FIR against them in the case, despite the CJM’s recent specific order to initiate investigation against the police officials after registering a case against them.

They strongly condemned the actions of the police officials and demanded that the case's investigation be transferred out of the Sri Muktsar Sahib district to ensure justice.

The letter to the Punjab Chief Minister was sent by the Bar Association's President G B S Dhillon and Honorary Secretary Jasmeet Singh Bhatia. This communication also followed an order from the Chief Judicial Magistrate on September 22, directing the registration of an FIR against several police personnel for alleged offenses, including causing injuries to the advocate, wrongful confinement, threats to his life and liberty, and abetment of unnatural sex.

The Advocate was initially arrested following a complaint by CIA in-charge who alleged that they had assaulted a team of police officials on September 14. He was later sent to judicial custody, but the advocate requested a medical re-examination the next day, claiming inhuman treatment. Medical reports indicated 18 injuries to his body, and he appeared before the court on September 21 to provide a statement. The advocate also claimed to have withdrawn his bail application due to fear. The CJM court's order on September 22 had directed the SHO to initiate an investigation against the named police officials after registering a case against them.

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