The sudden transfer of Suresh Batra, the special public prosecutor in the multi-crore Jagdish Bhola drug racket, by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), just before the start of trial in the case in Patiala court, has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
ED had issued Batra’s marching orders from Chandigarh to Bengaluru and he was relieved of his duties on July 20, the same day he was handed over the transfer orders.
While the third chargesheet in the case was filed on July 4, the trial in the case was to start from August 1 when the racket kingpin Jagdish Bhola is to appear in the Patiala trial court.
An Arjuna award winner, Bhola is a wrestler-turned-Punjab police DSP who was later suspended.
The application moved by advocate Navkiran Singh seeking quashing of Batra’s transfer orders in public interest, in the already pending bunch of petitions in the high court, will come up for hearing on Monday. The case is listed before the division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and PB Bajanthri.
The petitioner advocate has questioned ED’s move to transfer the special public prosecutor in the ongoing case and that too when he is connected with the case since its beginning and the case is being closely monitored by the High Court itself. It has been submitted that the transfer orders are neither in public interest nor in the interest of justice.
Punjab politicians who have been questioned in the case for their alleged involvement till date by the ED include Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh Singh, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Avinash Chander and former minister and SAD leader Sarwan Singh Phillaur.
ED’s legal adviser Batra was appointed a notified special public prosecutor in the case in 2013. He had earlier worked as Central Bureau of Investigation’s public prosecutor for eight years and had appeared in high-profile cases such as the 2008 Aarushi Talwar murder case and 2006 Nithari serial murders case.
It was on Navkiran Singh’s earlier intervention in the case that the high court had on January 21 put a stay on the transfer orders of Assistant Director Niranjan Singh, probing money laundering allegations in the multi-crore drug racket, issued by the ED on January 16. Niranjan Singh was transferred from Jalandhar to Kolkata but the high court was of the opinion that “when the court is monitoring the important case and calling reports from time-to-time then a specific officer needs to look into it. The issue is very important”.
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