Drug case: HC dismisses Sukhpal Khaira’s petition, asks him to approach trial court for bail
The high court bench of justice AB Chaudhari quashed the non-bailable warrants issued against Khaira for November 30. The court asked Khaira to approach the trial court for anticipatory bail.Updated: Nov 17, 2017 23:51 IST
A month after a Fazilka court summoned Aam Aadmi Party’s leader of opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Sukhpal Singh Khaira to face trial as an additional accused in a 2015 drugs seizure case, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the order.
Pronouncing the verdict, the high court bench of justice AB Chaudhari quashed the non-bailable warrants issued against Khaira for November 30. The court asked Khaira to approach the trial court for anticipatory bail.
Khaira’s name had come up in the case after the arrest of nine smugglers in Fazilka in March this year. The police had recovered 2kg heroin, 24 gold biscuits, a country-made pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards from them. They were convicted on October 31 and were sentenced three to 20 years jail for trans-border heroin smuggling. The court had summoned Khaira through the same order. The only legal option available to Khaira is to approach the apex court.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress lost no time in going after Khaira. SAD president Sukhbir Badal demanded Khaira’s arrest without further delay and asked AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal to break his silence on the issue. “Kejriwal should tell people how long his party will shield the accused in such a serious case,” he said at a press conference.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar also demanded Khaira’s resignation from the position of leader of opposition on “moral grounds”. Rejecting their demand, Khaira said he will continue his fight. “I will not resign because Sukhbir and (Bikram) Majitha want it. If the party (AAP) leadership or MLAs say this, I will give my resignation in 5 minutes,” he said. AAP co-president Aman Arora said the party is with him.
Khaira had termed the case a “classical instance of political vendetta”. However, the high court observed that the FIR was registered in 2015 when the present government was not ruling in the state. To Khaira’s argument that call records being cited was not admissible, the court said whether evidence is relevant, irrelevant, admissible or inadmissible are matters to be seen at the trial. “But then, I find that the evidence pointed out by the public prosecutor and the reasons given by the trial court in that behalf cannot be said to be leading to merely a prima facie case. The details of calls between the additional accused and the convicted accused are a matter which cannot be taken lightly in the wake of trans-border drug smuggling,” the court said referring to the calls allegedly made between Khaira and the accused.
(The story has been updated)
First Published: Nov 17, 2017 11:09 IST