A single-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Hon’ble. Mr. Justice Hrishikesh Roy vide order dated November 25, 2020, has dismissed the petition initiated by the patrons of the Dera Sacha Sauda to transfer the various cases concerning the sacrilege of the religious scriptures of Sikhism – The Guru Granth Sahib.
Under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the petitioners had prayed for the transfer of these cases from outside the state of Punjab to Delhi or to any of the neighbouring states. These impugned cases were, at the moment, pending before the District Courts at Bhatinda, Moga, and Fardikot.
The petitioners were the accused in all these criminal cases and had submitted that they were prejudiced in Punjab as a certain majoritarian religious group in the State had developed “ deep anguish and bitterness” to the case. It was the Petitioner’s contention that due to this, it was not possible for the trials within the State to be carried on in an impartial and unbiased manner.
The petitioners further submitted that they possessed a threat to their lives due to the prevailing communal disturbances in the State from the religious fanatics.
The Supreme Court while considering the argument of distressed environment, opined that, had the security concerns been a bona fide one, then the accused Petitioners being enlarged on bail, would not have carried on with their regular routine. The accused had openly continued with their day to day affairs and therefore transferring these cases out of Punjab on the grounds of threat concerns would not be reasonable.
Lastly, the Court explained that the powers vested with the Supreme Court under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are to be utilized prudently and cautiously only in cases where unbiased trials unswayed by extrinsic elements are absolutely unfeasible.