The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday refused to interfere with the enforcement directorate (ED)’s decision to repatriate a deputy director-level official, reportedly associated with the multi-crore Jagdish Bhola drug racket probe, from its Chandigarh office to New Delhi.
The high court (HC) special bench of justices Surya Kant and Sudip Ahluwalia, during the resumed hearing, observed that a deputy director-level official, Niranjan Singh, was already associated with the probe, and the court was also monitoring the investigation. “We are seized of the matter. If at any stage, you (Lawyers for Human Rights International) feel that certain directions are required, you can point out to us. We will look into it,” the HC bench said.
The HC was hearing a petition of the lawyers’ body, in which it had sought stay on a recent order of repatriating Gurnam Singh, ED deputy director in Chandigarh. It had alleged that the move would hamper ED’s probe into the Bhola drug racket case. Following the petition, the ED on December 23 had assured the HC that the officer will not be repatriated till January 10.
On Monday, the HC bench also took note of an affidavit filed by the ED stating that Gurnam Singh was not associated with day-to-day investigation in the case and was only a designated authority to pass attachment orders in drug cases, since there was no deputy director-level official at the Jalandhar office. Now, after Niranjan Singh’s promotion, Gurnam Singh was not required for that purpose too, said the ED.
Gurnam Singh was appointed on deputation, initially for three years in 2011, and his tenure was extended from time to time. His tenure ended on January 1, 2017. He is to retire in November.
During the hearing, additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain, too, assured the court that the Centre will make every possible effort to keep the official posted with the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh, his parent department, till his superannuation.
‘CONSTITUTE TEAMS TO FIND DRUG SOURCES’
The HC also directed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to form teams to interview inmates of de-addiction centres in their respective areas of jurisdiction to find the ‘sources’ of drugs. The compliance report in this regard has been sought by February 15. A Punjab government report submitted in December last had revealed that of 5,517 cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, till November 30, 2016, the police were able to find out the ‘sources’ in only 152 cases.
The directions were issued on the application of the NGO, wherein it pointed out that during visits to the de-addiction centre at Patiala and on interviewing addicts, the visitors were able to get information about the sources. Directions were also sought for the police heads in the Tricity to form a joint team to crack the network of drug dealers in the neighbouring towns.
The HC asked the NGO’s lawyer, Navkiran Singh, to supply a copy of the order and the application moved by him to the Election Commission of India and Punjab chief electoral office for necessary steps to be taken by them, as the state goes to the polls on February 4.