The Haryana government has lodged a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging a Punjab & Haryana High Court order that mandated a judicial inquiry into the death of a protesting farmer, Shubhkaran Singh, who tragically lost his life on February 21 at the Punjab-Haryana border.

According to information available on the Supreme Court’s website, the SLP was filed on March 11 but remains on the defect list, awaiting clearance for listing by the registry.

In the ruling issued by Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) GS Sandhawalia and Justice Lapita Banerji of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, it was stated that the investigation could not be entrusted to Punjab or Haryana “for obvious reasons.” Consequently, the High Court established a three-member committee comprising a retired High Court judge and two officers of ADGP rank from Haryana and Punjab. The committee, headed by Justice Jaishree Thakur, a retired Judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, will be supported by Parmod Ban, ADGP Punjab, and Amitabh Singh Dhillon, ADGP Haryana.

Furthermore, the bench interrogated the Haryana government about the type of bullets and pellets employed by the Haryana Police against protestors and demanded detailed information on the matter.

After reviewing the affidavits submitted by the states, the Court concluded that the protester’s death was seemingly a result of excessive police force. It also reprimanded the Punjab Police for the delay in registering an FIR regarding the protester’s death, as the incident occurred on February 21, but the FIR was not lodged until February 28.

During proceedings in the High Court, ASG Satya Pal Jain indicated that the Central Government was willing to engage in discussions with farmer leaders in either Chandigarh or Delhi, as per their preference, and certain corrective actions had already been initiated.

The farmers have been protesting to demand legislation guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP), among other demands. The petitioner alleges that the Haryana police and paramilitary forces engaged in heavy tear gas shelling and, while taking cover from the smoke, opened fire on the protestors, resulting in Shubhkarn Singh’s death.

The petition additionally seeks directives to the Centre and the State to furnish comprehensive data on tear gas shells, pellet guns, rubber bullets, and real bullets used by the police and paramilitary forces. This information is deemed necessary for the Court to assess whether the force employed by the authorities against their fellow citizens is reasonable or indiscriminate and inhumane.

The petitioner contends that “the Haryana police/paramilitary forces have terrorized the protestors, even crossing into Punjab’s jurisdiction.”

“The silence of the Punjab police and administration on the widespread jurisdictional violations is equally concerning. To date, there has been no official confirmation whether the DGP of Punjab or the Chief Secretary of Punjab have registered their objections to the excessive use of force against Punjab residents and within Punjab’s jurisdiction,” the plea states.

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