Hearing in the Bhola drugs case was adjourned Friday after Justice Arun Palli of the Punjab and Haryana High Court recused himself from the case citing personal reasons. The matter will now be placed before the Chief Justice, who will decide the bench that will hear the case and related petitions.
On Friday, the cases came up for hearing for the first time before the division bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Arun Palli due to the recent change in the roster of the High Court. The Bhola drugs case, resulting from a public interest litigation for monitoring the investigation into a number of drug rackets in the state, was being heard by the division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant since 2015.
A Supreme Court order of 2015 directing the High Court Chief Justice to list the Bhola drugs case and all other connected cases “before an appropriate Bench for an early hearing and disposal in accordance with law” was also mentioned by the lawyers during the hearing after which Chief Justice Murari said it would be considered on the administrative side whether a single-judge bench would hear all the related cases or whether the main case would be heard by one bench and its connected matters like bail pleas by a different bench.
The division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant had said in July that the bail matters of the accused were being put up regularly before its bench as it was hearing the main case but “the pending PIL might not have any direct bearing on the merits of the bail matter(s)” and ordered that the matter be placed up before the Chief Justice for listing of the bail matters before a different bench.
The Bhola drugs case, in recent months, has been surrounded by many controversies with a DGP-rank officer accusing two other DGP-level officers of shielding a police officer accused of complicity with another tainted police official in a drugs case.
Currently, two probe reports related to the allegations against senior Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia and another on the allegations against SSP-rank officer Raj Jit Singh are pending further orders in the PIL on drugs.