In yet another transfer of a key officer related to the investigation of the high-profile multi-crore Bhola drug racket, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has transferred Suresh Batra, special public prosecutor in the case.
A permanent law officer with the ED, Batra has been transferred to Bangalore at a time when the prosecution in the three chargesheets filed in a special Patiala court was scheduled to begin on August 1. Bhola will also appear before the court on the day.
The orders from the ED headquarters in Delhi do not name a replacement for Batra, who has also worked in the Central Bureau of Investigation and has pursued the Nithari killings and Aarushi murder cases.
When contacted, Batra said the transfer was the administrative prerogative of the ED headquarters.
Batra had prepared and signed all three chargesheets filed in the court relating to the drug case till now. According to the lawyers involved in the case, his transfer will affect the investigation. "His transfer is a setback for the case as Batra was the brain behind preparing the chargesheet. Since the case began, he was part of the documents prepared by the ED for the court proceedings. The new officer will have to study the facts from the scratch as each piece of evidence has different value for each counsel," said another lawyer involved in the case.
Batra is the second key officer related to the drug case who has been transferred at a crucial time. Earlier, the investigation officer in the case and ED assistant director Niranjan Singh was suddenly transferred to Kolkata on January 17. The Punjab and Haryana high court has stayed his transfer and will hear the case on July 31.
The ED produced the latest challan in the case in the Patiala court on July 4. Till now the agency has named 24 people in the three chargesheets. The ED has questioned politicians, including revenue minister Bikram Majithia, Congress's Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh, chief parliamentary secretary Avinash Chandar and former minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur.