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Friday, April 16, 2021

Explained: Why Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are sparring over Mukhtar Ansari

BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari is lodged in a jail in Punjab in connection with an extortion case. Why is the Punjab prisons department not sending Ansari for court appearances in Uttar Pradesh?

By: Explained Desk |
Updated: February 26, 2021 9:37:25 am
BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari (Express Photo/File)

The Uttar Pradesh government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the Punjab government is “shamelessly protecting” BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari by not handing over his custody to face trial “in 10 heinous cases of murder, extortion, cheating, fraud” and “gangster acts” in the special court for MPs and MLAs in Allahabad.

“You are such a small fry that a state (Punjab) is shamelessly protecting you,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta retorted as Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ansari, told a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy that the BSP MLA was a “small fry” caught in a fight between two states.

Ansari, an MLA from UP’s Mau Sadar seat, is currently lodged in the Roopnagar District Jail (also known as Ropar Jail) in Punjab in connection with an extortion case. Earlier in October 2020, UP BJP MLA Alka Rai, wife of former legislator Krishna Nand Rai who was murdered in 2005, shot off a letter to Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, accusing the Congress government in Punjab of helping Ansari, an accused in the murder of her husband, evade court appearances in UP.

Why is Ansari in a Punjab jail?

Ansari was booked for extortion (Section 386 of Indian Penal Code) and criminal intimidation (Section 506 of the IPC) on the complaint of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Homeland Group engaged in real estate business in Punjab and Delhi National Capital Region. In his complaint to the Mohali SSP, the CEO stated that on January 9, 2019 evening he answered a call from a person who introduced himself as “some Ansari from UP” and asked him to pay up Rs 10 crore if he wanted to ensure the safety of his family. The complainant said he had recorded the call. The police lodged an FIR in which Ansari was named as the accused with his address as Banda, Uttar Pradesh. The Punjab Police brought Ansari on a production warrant from a UP jail about a fortnight after the registration of this case. He has been lodged in the Ropar jail since.

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Why is Punjab prisons department not sending Ansari for court appearances in UP?

As per Punjab Prisons department, a panel of doctors has “advised Ansari against long travel”. As per an official functionary Ansari was advised bed rest by PGIMER, Chandigarh, in 2019 and also by a panel of three doctors in Ropar district in September last year. “We go by the recommendations of medical officers,” said the functionary, adding that Ansari was suffering from “back pain and high-sugar levels”.

Punjab, in its written submission before the Supreme Court, opposed the writ petition filed by UP under Article 32, saying only citizens can exercise the right for protection of their fundamental rights and not the state, which has no fundamental right conferred on it.

What is the UP government’s contention ?

“Looking at the chain of events and chronology, it appears that the transfer of custody of” Ansari “is meticulously planned and raises a strong suspicion of conspiracy to delay the proceedings before the Special Judge (MP/MLA), Allahabad,” the UP government submitted in the court. It also told the court that District Jail Banda SSP had been suspended and a departmental inquiry against the SSP for giving custody of Ansari to Punjab Police without seeking permission from the Allahabad court.

What are the cases against Ansari in UP?

Ansari is a history-sheeter in Mohammadabad police station of Ghazipur district with 38 cases of heinous crime lodged against him. The cases against the five-time MLA are lodged at various police stations in different districts, including Lucknow, Ghazipur and Mau. Ansari has been acquitted.

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