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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

HC stays Majithia’s arrest for 3 days, gives him time to approach Supreme Court

After his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by the HC, Majithia’s lawyers filed a plea requesting one week to seek remedy.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 26, 2022 3:49:28 am
Bikram Singh Majithia, Bikram Singh Majithia NDPS Case, Bikram Singh Majithia arrest, Bikram Singh Majithia jail, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Punjab Polls, Indian Express, Indian Express newsSAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia (File)

Observing that “the matter indeed calls for in-depth investigation without being coloured by political overtones”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia three-day protection from arrest a day after dismissing his anticipatory bail plea in drugs case. The three-day period, the court said, is to enable to SAD leader to approach the Supreme Court for challenging the bail dismissal order.

After his anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by the HC, Majithia’s lawyers filed a plea requesting one week to seek remedy.

After hearing the plea, the bench of Justice Lisa Gill ordered, “The petitioner is afforded three days to enable him to approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court for challenging this order. Till then, petitioner be not arrested”.

“It is made clear that this protection will ensure only for three days from today,” the bench said. The order was passed on January 24, but the detailed judgment was released on January 25.

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Majithia (46) was booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act last month.

Justice Gill, after hearing the arguments of Majithia’s legal team, said: “Grave allegations of a serious nature of intentional use of government machinery including vehicles, security personnel and other government facilities for assisting, facilitating and abetting drug trafficking and other related illegal activities as well as receipt of illegal proceeds from such trafficking have been raised against the petitioner.”

“In the given factual background of the case, I do not find any irregularity, infirmity or illegality in the opinion rendered by the learned Advocate General, Punjab as detailed in FIR No.02 dated December 20, 2021. In my considered opinion, there is indeed no embargo or bar upon the state government for proceeding to register FIR against the petitioner in case it has found that there is sufficient material to proceed against him. There is a specific observation by the Division Bench of this High Court that the law enforcement agencies shall proceed strictly in accordance with law in the matters within their purview,” said Justice Gill.

The court added: “…once it is found by the state authorities that there is sufficient material on record to proceed against the petitioner on the basis of the report submitted by the head of STF, there is no question of any impediment due to a subsequent opinion-cum-status report submitted before the Division Bench, which is lying in the sealed cover. There is nothing on record to warrant non-registration of the case against the petitioner, at this stage, due to an interim order or any specific mandate of the Division Bench.”

About the report submitted by STF head before the HC, Justice Gill added that “allegations against the petitioner are of having close association and relationship with the persons, who were admittedly engaged in drug trafficking. Petitioner is alleged to have facilitated, abetted in the same, specifically by permitting use of government machinery including vehicles, security personnel and other facilities”.

Regarding questions raised about registration of fresh FIR without permission from the competent authority or without an order of the division bench of this High Court, the bench said, “I am, prime facie in agreement with the submission of learned counsel for the State that a fresh FIR in the given factual matrix is permissible for the reason that the inquiry against the petitioner involves a much larger canvass and is not restricted to the pending matters.”

About allegations of the probe against Majithia being politically motivated, Justice Gill said, “I do not find that such allegations are substantiated to the extent which would persuade this court to arrive at a conclusion that the entire official machinery is to be painted with a tainted brush, inasmuch as all of them have connived to try and implicate the petitioner in a false case. Such an averment indeed appears to be farfetched and delusionary in the given circumstances and the specific material on record.”

The judge added, “It cannot be denied that the petitioner indeed was at the helm of affairs at the time of occurrence of alleged offence(s). He was admittedly a Cabinet Minister for some part of the time and was admittedly closely related to then Deputy Chief Minister of the state, besides, a Member of Parliament, of the central government. Merely on the ground that no action was taken by the state government for these long years, the petitioner is not entitled to relief in this petition. The report in question was duly handed over to the state, therefore, in case delay has occurred due to tardiness of the state machinery for any reasons, whatsoever, the same cannot provide a sufficient ground to the petitioner for grant of anticipatory bail in this matter.”

The court said that it was of the opinion that “complete and thorough investigation” should not be the casualty of the ongoing “political slugfest” given that the allegations were grave.

“The matter indeed calls for in-depth investigation without being coloured by political overtones…,” read Justice Gill’s order.

On the state’s argument that Majithia was not cooperating with probe officials, Justice Gill added, “An opportunity was provided to the petitioner to join investigation and fully cooperate with the investigating agency. At this stage, it is relevant to note that a box allegedly containing photo album and videos of the petitioner’s marriage were sought to be placed before this court today…In the answers to the questionnaire the petitioner has stated that the said photo album etc. has been misplaced. However today, learned counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the petitioner wishes and desires that the said photographs be placed before the court or the petitioner is ready and willing to present the same only before the Inspector General of Police or the Director General of Police, Punjab himself and not before the Investigating Officer. This manner and conduct of the petitioner lends credence to the assertion of learned counsel for the State that the petitioner has not extended full cooperation to the Investigating Agency.”

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