The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the trial court proceedings against Punjab Leader of Opposition and AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira in a trans-border drug smuggling case.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer issued a notice on Khaira’s plea challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order dismissing his petition to quash the summons issued to him by the trial court in Fazilka. The court had asked him to appear before it on December 21.
“Issue notice to the standing counsel for the State of Punjab. There shall be stay of further proceedings before the trial court,” the bench ordered.
The drug smuggling case dates back to March 5, 2015 when an FIR was registered at Sadar police station of Jalalabad in Fazilka against nine people, including Gurdev Singh, allegedly a close associate of Khaira, under sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The accused were arrested on March 8, 2015, and 2 kg heroin, 24 gold biscuits, one country-made pistol, .315-bore pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards were recovered from them. Khaira was not named as an accused in the FIR and the chargesheet filed by the police.
The trial in Fazilka concluded on October 31. All nine accused were found guilty and sentenced to 3-20 years’ imprisonment.
Before the trial concluded, the prosecutor recalled some witnesses and claimed in an application that Khaira was also involved in racket. On October 31, the trial court judge summoned Khaira and four others to face trial. He issued non-bailable warrants for production of accused on the next date of hearing on November 30.
Khaira moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court on November 3 seeking to quash the summons and non-bailable warrants issued against him. The court on November 11 quashed the warrants but directed Khaira to appear in the Fazilka court. However, Khaira did not appear on Thursday and the court issued fresh summons for December 21, the next date of hearing.
Following the relief granted to him, Khaira said he would attack the “corrupt practices” of the Congress government with renewed vigour. Khaira, who was in New Delhi for the court hearing, said he was heading straight for the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara to pay obeisance.
“I have been saying from day one that I am innocent and that I am being framed. But I am still feeling shocked at the manner in which the August Assembly was misused by CM Captain Amarinder Singh to pass a resolution against the Bains brothers for making the audio sting public,” he said. Khaira said he held the courts in the highest regard and that his only aim was to find out whether the question of bribery was a fact and if it was, then the source of the money should be traced.
(With inputs from ENS Chandigarh)