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Protests, ‘influence’ in polls, bribery: Some cases ‘untraced’, some dismissed

The affidavit, which was filed on May 24, states that 163 such cases are pending. Some of the political leaders named are booked in more than one case.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
July 12, 2021 4:05:43 am
According to the affidavit, the two cases registered against Bittu at Civil Lines and Canal Colony police stations (both in Bathinda district) in September 2015, were “untraced”.

TWELVE CONGRESS leaders including two MPs, a minister and four MLAs are among those whose names figure in an affidavit filed by the Punjab government before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on cases pending against sitting and former lawmakers in the state.

The affidavit, which was filed on May 24, states that 163 such cases are pending. Some of the political leaders named are booked in more than one case.

Among the two Congress MPs (out of a total of 8) named in the affidavit is Ravneet Singh Bittu, who is in the eye of the storm for “insulting the Dalit community” by purportedly stating that the Akali Dal had left the “holy seats” of Anandpur Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib for BSP.

The other is Khadoor MP Jasbir Singh Gill, who was an MLA when he was booked in a case back in January 2012.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, Dalvir Singh Goldy, Joginder Pal and Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh are the four Congress MLAs (out of a total 80) who also have been mentioned in the affidavit, alongwith Cabinet Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

The cases

According to the affidavit, the two cases registered against Bittu at Civil Lines and Canal Colony police stations (both in Bathinda district) in September 2015, were “untraced”. The Civil Lines police station case was declared “untraced” on March 19 this year and the Canal Colony police station case on August 17, 2019.

Bittu was among others booked under sections of 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the IPC on September 30, 2015, at Bathinda Civil Lines police station.

On the same day, he was booked at Bathinda Canal Colony police station under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of IPC and under sections of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984. Both cases were lodged over a protest against “inadequate compensation” to cotton growers in the wake of crop damage due to a whitefly attack.

While Bittu was not available for comment, Jasbir Singh Gill, who was booked in a case in 2012, ahead of 2012 Punjab Assembly elections, under section 127-A (that deals with restrictions on printing of pamphlets, posters, etc.) of The Representation of the People Act, said: “No case is pending against me.”

He also referred to an affidavit filed by him to contest 2019 parliamentary elections to assert the same. Claiming that he did not know the details of the case, Gill said he was never asked to join investigations.

However, as per the Punjab government affidavit, the said case against Gill is “under re-investigation”. A police officer said investigators might have “filed the closure/cancellation report before the 2019 parliamentary elections and hence the case did not figure in the candidate’s affidavit”, but subsequently, the court was likely to have ordered a re-investigation.

Channi, as per the Punjab government affidavit, has a January 2012 case pending against him. He was booked in Ropar district under sections of 171 B (bribery), 171 C (undue influence at elections), 171 F (undue influence or personation at an election) and section 123 (corrupt practices) of The Representation of the People Act. The case is “under investigation”. Channi was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

The government affidavit also mentioned a pending case against Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was booked under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 34 (common intention) IPC at Patiala Kotwali police station on December 12, 1998, in a road rage case that resulted in the death of a man. Sidhu was acquitted by sessions court on September 22, 1999, and a review petition is pending in Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy, booked in a case registered under sections 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC at Dhuri police station on October 16, 2015 (under investigation), was not available for comment. MLA Sukhjit Singh was booked under sections 306 (abetment of suicide) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC on May 26, 2016 at Kot Isse Khan police station in Moga. Sukhjit termed the case as “politically motivated” ahead of 2017 Assembly elections. A cancellation report in the case was filed on March 21 last year.

MLA Joginder Pal was booked in a case lodged at Sujanpur police station on May 1, 2010, under sections 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 506 (criminal intimidation) 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of IPC. The cancellation was filed on September 29, 2010, “in the court of Kamaldeep Singh Dhaliwal, CJM, Pathankot, for approval”, said the affidavit.

Ex-MLAs of the Congress whose names figure in the Punjab government affidavit are Tarlochan Singh Soondh, Guriqbal Kaur, Raman Bhalla, Ajit Inder Singh Mofar and Ranjt Singh Chhajjalwaddi.

Soondh, who was booked under a section of Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act on February 24, 2007, at Behram police station, alleged the case was registered at the behest of a bureaucrat who had “a grudge with him”. As per the affidavit, the case is under-investigation.

Guriqbal Kaur, mother of first-time Congress legislator Angad Singh from Nawanshahr constituency, was booked in a case of cheating and other offences on July 18, 2012.

The case is at ‘under-trial’ stage. Kaur said the case pertained to alleged use of an MLA sticker on a vehicle by one of her relatives. “I was not aware of that. I became MLA for the first time and got two stickers, one for pasting on the official vehicle and other for the private vehicle. One of my drivers at that time who was in touch with the driver of my relative pasted a photocopy of the sticker on my relative’s car. It was not in our notice,” said Kaur.

Raman Bhalla was booked on September 26, 2009 under sections of IPC and the National Highways Act, 1956, at Pathankot division number 1 police station. As per the affidavit, the ‘untraced’ report submitted in court was pending approval.

Bhalla said, “It was basically (related to) protest against (the then) SAD-BJP government over shortage of water in two wards. The status of the case is not known to me.”

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