HC defers hearing in Bhola drug racket to October 26
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday deferred the hearing in the 2013 suo motu plea in the multi-crore Bhola drug racket case to October 26.
The case was taken up on Thursday afternoon by the newly constituted bench of justice AG Masih and justice Ashok Kumar Verma and after a brief hearing, it posted the matter for October 26. The judges told lawyers that during the Dussehra break, they would examine the case record and orders passed from time to time so that they can acquaint themselves with the case.
The bench was to frame various issues on the drug menace in the state so that it can be dealt with separately, but the hearing had to be adjourned due to paucity of time. The court is yet to decide whether the sealed cover reports filed by various agencies are to be opened.
Earlier, appearing for former DGP (prisons) Shashi Kant, senior advocate Gurminder Singh listed out issues related to drugs menace in Punjab and submitted that sealed cover status reports are one part of it and exhorted for holistic approach for eradication of the menace. In 2013, suo motu proceedings were initiated on his letter.
In his submissions, senior advocate Anupam Gupta said the sealed cover status reports dealt with culpability of people in high places. If the issue is not dealt with on priority, it would be a tragedy. He also suggested that the court can open the reports for its own understanding of the issue and if it do not find any substance, can act accordingly, but the reports ought to be opened.
Punjab advocate general APS Deol reiterated the state’s resolve to act against the drug menace and highlighted immediacy of action against those involved and importance of sealed cover reports so that prosecution agencies can act swiftly.
In August, an application was filed by advocate Navkiran Singh seeking opening of three crucial reports, one by then head of the special task force HS Sidhu, another by then assistant director, enforcement directorate, Niranjan Singh and the third report/opinion by a committee headed by then additional chief secretary (home) Dr Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi. All these reports are mainly on allegations of involvement of some high-profile politicians of the state. Acting on the plea, the court had advanced hearing by a almost a month from November.
During the hearing, Deol has also referred to another set of reports submitted in 2018 by an SIT led by Siddharth Chattopadhyaya, to probe role of police officers in the drug racket.