HC slams PPCC president for 'diverting' issue; directs NCB, Punjab to file replies
The Punjab and Haryana high court while refusing to entertain Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa's petition seeking a CBI probe into the international drugs racket slammed him for "diverting the issue", on Wednesday.chandigarh Updated: Jan 29, 2014 23:39 IST
The Punjab and Haryana high court while refusing to entertain Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa's petition seeking a CBI probe into the international drugs racket slammed him for "diverting the issue", on Wednesday.
Anguished over Bajwa for submitting newspaper clippings about Punjab police's "politically influenced investigation" in cases other than drugs, the division bench headed by chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul remarked that the idea was to focus on drugs issue and he had placed news items of different issues. "If you want to fight the state government politically, go somewhere else," the chief justice said. When the court was about to dismiss his petition, Bajwa's counsel requested the court to withdraw it.
At the same time, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has been ordered to clear its stand to the high court in four weeks to unearth international drug racket and how it was going to strengthen the capability of its Chandigarh zonal unit to deal with the drug menace. The court also emphasised on better coordination between the state and central government agencies to tackle the menace.
The court directed the Punjab government to submit its updated status report before March 3. The Punjab police as well as the enforcement directorate submitted their status reports in sealed covers to the high court on Wednesday.
The directions came on a petition filed by former Punjab director general of police (prisons) Shashi Kant in which Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa and former Congress MP Jagmeet Singh Brar had filed applications to assist the court. All were seeking a CBI probe alleging political influence of the Badal government in the state police investigation.
Speaking for the bench, the chief justice said, "I have perused the reply. The Punjab record suggests that there is some mechanism already enforced. There is necessity of coordination by various agencies now."
CBI's prosecutor Sukhdeep Singh Sandhu contended, "The central agency narcotics control bureau (NCB) has been set up specifically to deal with the crime of narcotics and it exercises vast powers to nab the culprits even if they are staying beyond the terroritorial jurisdiction of even India." But at the same time, the court was apprised about lack of manpower and infrastructure being faced by Chandigarh zonal unit of NCB which just has nine officers to take care of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh.
Politics over CBI probe
Punjab's advocate general Ashok Aggarwal argued, "political issue is being created before elections by the petitioners (Congress legislators) by levelling wild allegations…" He further contended, "It is on record how the CBI is being used by government for political purposes." Countering this, Brar argued, "One negative role played by the CBI does not undermine its expertise and why should we hesitate against pooling in the central agency?"
When Kant argued, "The CBI necessarily have to fall in as the issue has international ramification," the court replied, "we want NCB to tell us what protocol to be followed…if names of certain politicians have been thrown does not mean we need to believe it blatantly."
Brar alleges Congmen's involvement
Brar cited a letter written by former PPCC president Capt Amarinder Singh to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in July last year alleging the Punjab Congressmen's involvement in drugs. Hindustan Times had highlighted that Bajwa, according to Amarinder's letter, "has been known to be indulging in smuggling along the border; earlier, it was gold and more recently, narcotics".
Jagmeet argued, "I am not representing any political party here but the new generation in Punjab is at the verge of loss to drugs."