Punjab govt in a deep slumber: High court on drug probe
Chandigarh The high court on Monday said the Punjab government has been in a “deep slumber” and wondered why it has not acted upon on findings in drugs cases. The current dispensation, on its part, squarely blamed Captain Amarinder Singh-led previous government for not pursuing drugs cases in a speedy manner, and admitted before court that there was no embargo for the government to take “action” in these cases.
Supreme Court lawyer Dushyant Dave and state’s advocate general DS Patwalia told a high court bench that they have advised government to take “action”.
At one point when they termed previous government’s response to the cases as “lazy”, the high court bench of justice AG Masih and justice Sandeep Moudgil observed that state had been in “deep slumber” and it wondered why it has not acted upon.
The court was hearing a 2013 petition on drugs menace in Punjab. The issue before the court right now is to whether sealed cover reports lying with it are to be opened or not. The reports are on the role of high-profile politicians and police officials in drugs cases. But no substantive hearing has taken place on the issue since mid- 2018, when the last set of reports was filed.
Fresh trigger came in August 2021 when Navkiran Singh, an intervener in the matter, filed an application demanding that sealed cover should be opened and state be directed to take action.
Prior to this, Punjab’s stand has been that sealed cover reports have been filed before court and any action pursuant to the reports is to be taken after same are opened and on court’s directions.
“I have been saying all along, there was no impediment from court to act on reports. The previous advocate general was of the view that ethically, we should wait for court order. Now the new advocate general and SC lawyer have said there was no embargo from the court in taking action. Even now the court says we also wonder why the state did not act,” Navkiran Singh said after the hearing. Now the matter stands adjourned for Thursday, when court will again take up the matter of opening of sealed cover reports.
No relief to Majithia
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA and former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia got no relief from the court on Monday. His counsel, senior advocate, RS Cheema reiterated that Majithia be made a party to the case as his image was being tarnished by his political opponents by linking him to drugs cases. His political opponents were targeting him only for reaping political benefits when the Vidhan Sabha elections are just round the corner, Cheema said specifically naming deputy chief minister, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. However, court did not issue notice on his application nor passed any other order.
The court made it clear that it was not concerned about “individuals” and what was happening outside the court. It is a public interest matter and court would proceed with it in larger public interest, the court observed.