The Punjab and Haryana high court has asked the district police chiefs of Punjab how many drug sources they traced in the past one year. They must submit their reports by October 19.
On Wednesday, the high court bench of justice Surya Kant and justice Sudip Ahluwalia issued directions to these senior superintendents of police (SSPs) after advocate Navkiran Singh, who represents an intervener, Lawyers for Human Rights International, submitted that cops were catching only small-time drug peddlers, not the big fish. The court is monitoring the fight of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh against drugs, and this petition relates to that.
HC-appointed SIT gets brickbats
The court also took a serious view of the submissions by senior advocate Anupam Gupta (who represents Enforcement Directorate officer Niranjan Singh) that the high-court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) had met various synthetic-drug-racket accused, including Jagdish Bhola, in custody to take their statements.
“It will be bad not only for Punjab but also for the entire country, if the culprits in this racket are exonerated. It is not a Prevention of Terror Act case, where committees are set up to look into the cases of political prisoners etc. They (SIT) don’t have any business meeting them (accused) and taking their version. The accused will obviously say that they were framed,” said Gupta.
Later, the court said the SIT must realise its role and the Punjab government must sensitise its officers. Last October 10, the high court had appointed a supervisory panel of inspector generals of police Ishwar Singh, G Nageshwar Rao, and V Neerja to review the investigation.
The court said the point that Gupta had raised merited consideration, for the SIT move could give a wrong impression to the other parties. The challans being filed or the investigations being done should not be influenced by the versions of these accused, the bench said.
On apprehension from former director general of police (prisons) Shashi Kant, it told the SIT to include “men of integrity” in the core team.
Report sought on de-addiction centres
The high court also directed impartial adviser Dr Aditya Avnash Kaushik to prepare a report on how the de-addiction centres of Punjab and Haryana function.
Earlier, Punjab had reported 132 of these centres, of which 60-odd were government-run. The high court has asked Punjab to hire private psychiatrists at the short-staffed centres. The government submitted draft curriculum for schools and colleges about educating youth against drug abuse.
Bittu Aulakh denied bail
The high court also declined Akali leader Maninder Singh ‘Bittu’ Aulakh bail in a money-laundering case related to the synthetic-drug racket. The court said that since Aulakh himself had stated in the petition that he was a prominent political figure, he could influence the investigation, if let out. The Enforcement Directorate had registered this case.