The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday asked Enforcement Directorate (ED) assistant director Niranjan Singh to prepare a note on Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
During a resumed hearing on Thursday, the high court bench comprising justice AK Mittal and justice Rekha Mittal directed the counsel of Niranjan Singh verbally to prepare the note detailing the prima-facie evidence the ED had to summon the minister for money-laundering investigation related to the Jagdish Bhola drug racket. The bench might ask for the note during the next hearing.
On December 26 last year, the ED’s Jalandhar office led by Niranjan Singh had summoned the Akali minister to record his statements about the money-laundering allegations. Less than a month later, Niranjan Singh was transferred to Kolkata. The January 16 transfer order led to a lot of noise in the media and other quarters that attributed it to the summoning of Majithia and other high-profile politicians.
Based on an application from a lawyers’ group, the high court stayed the transfer. Niranjan Singh himself has now contested the transfer order in the high court.
High court peruses Majithia statement
As directed by the high court, the ED produced the money-laundering investigation record, and the court perused the statement that Majithia had recorded with the directorate in about 45 minutes of hearing. Examining the statement, the court also told the ED to state who was Bhola, what were the details of his stint with Punjab Police, and how the drug racket was estimated to be worth `6,000 crore.
The court indicated that it could order the Bhola drug case to be fast-tracked, and observed that it could summon the ED officials, including Niranjan Singh, to its chamber for answers to questions that could not be asked in open court. Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal objected to it and submitted that the officials be accompanied by the law officers.
However, Niranjan’s counsel, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, said the court could summon officers to its chamber, and if any counsel, including that of Niranjan’s, was kept out of exercise, it should not be objected to.
The hearing is now adjourned for Wednesday, when the ED is required to bring to court the recorded statements of Majithia.
The agency is exempt from bringing the entire record for now, but for Thursday’s hearing, had brought all of it reportedly in two Toyota Innova cars from the Jalandhar office. The stay on the transfer of Niranjan Singh will continue until further orders.