No relief to SAD leader Bikram Majithia in drugs case for now, next hearing on Jan 10
SAD leader Bikram Majithia failed to get a stay order against arrest in a drugs case from Punjab and Haryana HC. Supreme Court advocate Mukul Rohatgi and senior advocate RS Cheema appeared for him
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia, 46, failed to get a stay order against arrest in a drugs case from the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday even as the court asked the state government to file “specific response” on the issues raised by him by January 10.
The high court bench of justice Lisa Gill heard his plea for one-and-a-half hours. A battery of lawyers led by Supreme Court advocate Mukul Rohatgi and senior advocate RS Cheema appeared for Majithia and pressed for interim protection.
It was argued that apart from the fact that there is “inexplicable delay” in lodging of the FIR, the criminal case itself could not have been lodged because, if at all, any material had indeed surfaced against him, it was incumbent upon the authorities to have firstly sought permission of the competent court before proceeding against him. A fresh FIR could not have been registered as the matter was being investigated both by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Special Task Force (STF) as well as the committee constituted under orders of the high court in a suo motu plea pending since 2013. No action for all these long years was taken, it was submitted, adding that the present FIR was vitiated by “political and ulterior motives”. The petitioner has no criminal record and is a mainstream politician and undertakes to join the investigation, fully cooperate with the investigating agency and abide by any conditions which may be imposed by the court, it was undertaken.
On the other hand, former Union minister P Chidambaram-led state government’s team and had referred to fresh statements recorded by the police of Niranjan Singh, former deputy director, ED, and Jagdish Singh Bhola, prime accused in 2013 drug haul case, arguing that there is “specific, sufficient and clear cut” material to connect Majithia with the offences alleged.
The bench of justice Lisa Gill, taking note of arguments from both sides, deferred the hearing for January 10, seeking a written response from the state government. However, the court has not passed an order on interim protection to Majithia.
On December 24, a Mohali court had dismissed Majithia’s plea, observing that though his claims are of “political vendetta” but he himself was a powerful person in state politics till 2017 during the SAD rule.
Majithia was booked by the Punjab Police on December 20 under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, including Sections 25 (punishment for allowing premises), 27 (A) (whoever is financing any activities pertaining to narcotic drugs) and 29 (party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence). Majithia’s whereabouts are not known.
The plea terms the criminal case “election stunt” and further alleges that the government has changed three police chiefs in three months to get this FIR registered. The plea also accuses Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu of indulging in “unwarranted propaganda” and deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa of demonstrating “intense hatred” towards him. The plea also refers to the controversy involving ADGP SK Asthana, claiming that he refused to investigate the matter and raised questions whether the matter can be investigated, STF report being sealed before the court, superseded by other reports and whether an investigation can be initiated without the permission of the court.