Bikram Majithia’s ‘witness’ claim under a cloud

  • Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Dec 25, 2014 08:13 IST

Contrary to Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s statement in the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had summoned him “as a witness, not as an accused”, sources in the central investigating agency on Wednesday revealed that the ED had made no mention of him being summoned as a “witness” in the drug racket case.

Majithia was not available for comment. However, when contacted, Jangveer Singh, media adviser to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, in a statement on Majithia’s behalf, said there was “no harm” if the minister had called himself as witness. “He is not appearing in the case as an accused since his name does not find a mention in any FIR, chargesheet or challan,” Jangveer said.

In his statement on the floor of the House, Majithia had not substantiated his ‘witness’ claim. “Let me put the entire matter to rest. I have been summoned by the ED not as an accused but as a witness,” is what he had said in the House.

Sources in the ED stated that at this stage of the case, Majithia had been summoned on the basis of certain accusations which may or may not be true. “So, the question of his being a witness or an accused does not arise. Nobody is a witness or an accused till the chargesheet is filed in the court,” revealed a top-level ED officer from New Delhi, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The sources further revealed that the minister would be given a questionnaire of more than 100 questions on the lines of that given to other politicians questioned by the agency so far. The questions, they added, had been prepared on the basis of information given by the others already examined in the case, including those who had “named” Majithia during their examination.

Meanwhile, Jangveer claimed that the papers sent by the ED to the minister did not mention that he had been summoned. “The ED has only said that your (Majithia’s) presence is necessary in connection with an investigation. When we have been only asked to join the investigation, we can only summarise that he is a witness. It’s like when you are a victim of a car accident and are called or summoned for the investigation, it will only be as a witness,” he said.

After an “examination” of the minister, the ED is also planning to re-examine three accused in the drug racket: former Akali leader from Amritsar Manjinder Singh alias Bittu Aulakh, Delhi-based smuggler Varinder Raja and Sukhjeet Singh Susa, alleged courier of main accused Jagdish Bhola.

Raja is lodged in the Patiala Central Jail, while Aulakh and Sukhjeet have been kept in the high-security jail at Nabha. The ED had moved an application for seeking custody of the three before a Patiala court on Tuesday.

Sources said after taking their custody from the court, the ED planned to investigate them in its own special cell in the headquarters here. Earlier, all were investigated in jails where they have been lodged.
Since the minister has so far not given any reason for not appearing for the examination, ED officials are anticipating that the minister would appear at the directorate office here on December 26, as mentioned in the summons.

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