Fifth Punjab and Haryana high court bench in four months has recused from hearing the Jagdish Bhola drug racket case.
The division bench of justice Rajive Bhalla and justice Amol Rattan Singh, before which the case was listed for hearing on Thursday, recorded that it be posted before another bench on July 27 with the approval of the acting chief justice. The division bench of justice SS Saron and justice Ramndera Jain had recused from hearing the same case on May 28. Earlier, the case was being heard by the division bench of justice AK Mittal and justice Rekha Mittal for more than a month.
During the May 6 hearing, Niranjan Singh, who is heading the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigations into the money-laundering aspect of the case, had submitted a note on the evidence before the high court for summoning Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia last December 24. The high court bench had also held discussions with various counsels about the drug case and Niranjan's transfer from Jalandhar to Kolkata, which the high court stayed in January.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court had remanded back appeals in the drug case to the Punjab and Haryana high court, asking it to constitute a bench for drug-related cases. Concerned over the "nature of allegations" made in the petitions, the Supreme Court had observed that these matters must be disposed of early. In the past six months, the transfer of Niranjan Singh had remained the "main focus" in drug-related hearings, as ED is desperate to shift him to Kolkata but has failed to convince the court about the fate of the drug-case investigations.
Who recused and when
July 9: The division bench of justice Rajive Bhalla and Amol Rattan Singh
May 28: The division bench of justice SS Saron and justice Ramendra Jain
May 6: The division bench of justice AK Mittal and justice Rekha Mittal
March 26: The bench of justice Hemant Gupta and justice Lisa Gill
March 18: The bench of justice SK Mittal and justice HS Sidhu