Updated: March 5, 2021 8:23:03 am
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on Uttar Pradesh’s plea seeking custody of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, lodged in a Punjab jail at present to face trial “in ten heinous cases of murder, extortion, cheating, fraud” and under the Gangster Act in the Special Court for MPs and MLAs in Allahabad.
While Punjab pitched for dismissal of the plea, Ansari urged the court to transfer the UP cases outside the state to Delhi over his fear of “political vendetta”.
“Because of my political affiliation to a party in opposition, I am being targeted,” Ansari, a BSP legislator, told a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy.
Stating that his co-accused in a case was killed in encounter by the police, Ansari told the court, “Uttar Pradesh has an axe to grind against Punjab and the court should not allow its shoulders to be used to fire a gun.”
Ansari said he has been appearing in all courts through video conferencing and “bogus arguments” have been used that trials are being stalled.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, referred to the prison rules and said that although the state does not have fundamental rights, it can espouse the cause and fundamental rights of the victims and may assume the position of the victim.
He said Ansari had flouted jail manual rules and right of the victim and the State at large cannot be overlooked, and that the accused cannot be allowed to disturb fair trial. He said that this court, under Article 142, can order transfer of Ansari from Punjab jail to a jail in Uttar Pradesh, as cases against him are at final stages.
Contesting UP’s claims that Punjab was giving excuses about Ansari’s health, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Punjab, said there is sufficient medical evidence available on record to show that the state’s decisions were based on cogent evidence.
Criminal proceedings against Ansari have been going on in UP for the last nearly 15 years, whereas the case in which he was booked in Punjab was only registered in 2019, Dave said. He said investigation is still on in the latter.
Ansari was booked in Punjab on charges of attempting to extort money by calling up a businessman while he was lodged in a jail in UP.
Dave submitted that a state does not have any fundamental right, and therefore UP could not have filed a writ petition under Article 32, which is available only to citizens for enforcement of fundamental rights. He stressed that the matter is very serious and would open a Pandora’s box if UP’s plea is allowed, as it would lead to a situation where states will come to the court fighting against each other.
Mehta opposed Ansari’s contention that he can appear in the trials through video conferencing, and said that if video-conferencing is sufficient in all cases, then even Vijay Mallya (fugitive business tycoon) can demand that.
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