The Supreme Court on Thursday gave Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia protection from arrest in a drugs case till January 31, when it will hear his anticipatory bail plea, and directed the Punjab government not to take any action until then.
“Tell your state not to do anything. We will hear [the plea] on Monday (January 31),” Chief Justice NV Ramana told senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for the Punjab government.
A case under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, was registered against Majithia in Mohali last December. The Akali Dal leader, who will fight the coming Punjab Assembly election directly against Congress’s Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar East, has previously said the case was a conspiracy against him.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Majithia, reiterated before the court that this was a case of “political vendetta”.
“He is called to police station. This is all due to the election fever,” said Rohatgi while seeking urgent hearing of Majithia’s plea.
The CJI then remarked in a lighter vein, “I do not know if this is election fever or election virus. Everyone is rushing to the courts now.”
Rohtagi said the high court had granted Majithia protection from arrest while dismissing the anticipatory bail plea to enable him to approach the apex court. The Punjab Police, which is aware of the fact that a plea has been filed in the apex court, is trying to arrest him, the senior lawyer said.
Responding to a query from the CJI about the case, Chidambaran told the court that Majithia had gone into hiding after the high court on January 24 rejected his prayer for anticipatory bail, but gave him interim protection for three days so that he could appeal to the SC.
“Is it fair Mr Chidambaram, when you know that his petition is going to be listed. Tell your government to not do anything,” the CJI observed.
Earlier this week, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the Akali Dal leader’s anticipatory bail plea. He was earlier granted interim bail anticipatory bail on the condition that he cooperate with the Punjab Police’s investigation into the case. The Congress-led state government had then argued before the HC that Majithia did not fully comply with the conditions.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on January 24 had dismissed the pre-arrest bail plea granted to Majithia. He was earlier granted bail on January 10 on the condition that he cooperate with the Punjab Police’s investigation into the case. The Congress-led state government had then argued before the HC that Majithia did not fully comply with the conditions.
Majithia, the brother-in-law of SAD leader Sukhbir Badal and the brother of former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, was booked under the NDPS Act on the basis of a 2018 report of a probe into a drugs racket operating in the state. The report was filed by the anti-drug special task force (STF) chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu in the high court in 2018.
The 49-page FIR in the matter was registered by the state Crime Branch at its Mohali police station.
Majithia was booked under sections 25 (punishment for allowing one’s premises for its use for the commission of an offence), 27A (for financing sale, purchase, production, manufacture, possession, transportation, use or consumption, import and export or any act pertaining to narcotics) and 29 (abetting or plotting an offence) of the NDPS Act.
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