The anticipatory bail application of local bodies and medical education minister Anil Joshi in three cases - one about demolition of a building and two defamation suits - will now come up for hearing in the court of the district and sessions judge here on Tuesday.
The hearing was scheduled for Monday, but district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh adjourned it as the Amritsar Bar Association (ABA) was on strike over the attack on a lawyer, Vineet Mahajan, who had filed cases against Joshi. Also, Mahajan's wife Renu, who is also an advocate, appeared in court on his behalf and cited that he was still in hospital.
Renu sought three days' adjournment, considering the condition of her husband who is a complainant in two of the three cases, and also cited the strike by the ABA. But the court only gave a day's adjournment. Having been demanding Joshi's arrest in the assault case, Renu had decided to appear before the court as there were apprehensions that some lawyers "from outside" could have argued the bail application on behalf of the minister.
The anticipatory bail plea came after non-bailable warrants were issued against Joshi on May 3 by the court of judicial magistrate, first class, for not appearing for hearing in the three cases filed against him by advocates Mahajan and Sandeep Gorsi. While issuing the warrants, the court had taken a serious view of the repeated exemptions from personal appearance that had been sought by the minister since December last year, when he was granted bail in the cases after he had surrendered in the court.
The court in its order had also ordered cancellation of his bail and surety bonds and had directed that the minister appear in court on May 20.
Thereafter, Joshi had filed an application seeking anticipatory bail in the cases on May 8.
The two defamation cases were filed separately by Gorsi and Mahajan. The third case filed by Mahajan pertains to demolition of a portion of a marriage palace owned by him by the Amritsar municipal corporation. The advocate had alleged that the AMC acted on the instructions of Joshi.
The minister and eight of his family members also have bailable warrants pending against them issued in the 'dual votes' case. The complainants in this case also are Gorsi and Mahajan. The next hearing in this case is June 16.
While Mahajan is in hospital, Gorsi is on the run after an attempt-to-murder case was registered against him and Congress councillor Gurinder Rishi last week. Before being attacked by miscreants on Saturday, Mahajan had alleged that the case against the two was fabricated and registered at the behest of Joshi so as to prevent Gorsi from appearing in court on Monday.
Strike by lawyers in Amritsar, Chandigarh
An emergent meeting of Amritsar Bar Association (ABA) condemned the attack on Vineet Mahajan and demanded that those responsible be arrested immediately. The meeting was chaired by ABA president Parminder Singh Sethi. As for the registration of "false" case against Sandeep Gorsi, the association demanded its immediate cancellation. In protest against the two incidents, the advocates struck work on Monday.
Also demanding resignation of cabinet minister Anil Joshi for his alleged involvement in the attack on Mahajan, the district bar association (DBA) of Chandigarh also abstained from work on Monday. On May 10, Mahajan was injured in an attack about an hour after he claimed at a press conference that the case against his friend Gorsi was fabricated and he might be the next target of the "henchmen of the local bodies and medical education minister". "It is very unfortunate that a lawyer is attacked just because he had exposed the minister," said Ashok Chauhan president of the DBA. Mahajan's wife Renu and her father Rajinder are members of the Chandigarh DBA.
Rajinder told the media, "Anil Joshi should immediately resign from the Punjab government or in the alternative he should be sacked."