Former Punjab minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia was booked under the NDPS Act, triggering allegations of political vendetta from his party. A case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act was registered against him on the basis of a 2018 status report of a probe into the drug racket in the state.
The report was filed by anti-drug special task force (STF) chief Harpreet Singh Sidhu in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2018. Majithia, (46), is the brother-in-law of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and brother of former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Majithia had earlier denied all charges against him.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the police are looking for Majithia to arrest him. A special investigation team led by Deputy Inspector General (Crime) has also been formed in this regard, sources said. The opposition SAD, however, dubbed the move as political vendetta. The 49-page FIR was registered by the state crime branch at its Mohali police station under various sections of the NDPS Act.
The sections include 25 (punishment for allowing one’s premises for its use for the commission of an offence), 27 A (for financing sale, purchase, production, manufacture, possession, transportation, use or consumption, import and export or any act pertaining to narcotics) and 29 (for abetting or plotting an offence). The FIR noted that the legal opinion of Punjab’s advocate general too was taken before registering the same.
On the basis of the status report of the STF along with the opinion of the advocate general, a cognizable offence is made out and therefore a case be registered and investigated, the FIR noted. The FIR stated that the case shall be investigated by a special investigation team for which orders are being issued separately. All related aspects and evidence can be examined thoroughly and investigation completed expeditiously as per facts and law, it further read.
The STF report pending with the high court was based on confessional statements given by some accused, including Jagjit Singh Chahal, Jagdish Singh Bhola and Maninder Singh Aulakh, of the 2013 multi-crore drug racket case, given to the Enforcement Directorate (ED). In this case, Majithia was also questioned by the ED in December 2014 when he was the minister in the Akali government.
According to the findings, prima facie there is sufficient evidence on record to further investigate the role of Shri Bikram Singh Majithia as regards the allegations made in the application under scrutiny, the FIR stated. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the state government is committed to taking legal action against drug traffickers and delivering justice to Punjabis.
“Today the first step has been taken to give justice to all of them (victims of drug malady in the state) by registering an FIR against Bikram Singh Majithia in Crime Branch, Mohali on the basis of the report of the STF that was formed on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court,” he said in a tweet.
Majithia was elected to the Vidhan Sabha in 2007, 2012 and 2017, and has remained minister for water supply and sanitation, information and public relations, science, technology, environment, revenue, NRI affairs and non-conventional energy.
Reacting on the development, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said it will not stand the legal scrutiny as the government had not followed due process of law. Talking to reporters in Muktsar, SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal said, “We already knew it.” He said the Congress government changed three state police chiefs to book and arrest the Badals and Majithia.
“Take me wherever you want to, I am ready. Any government which indulges in this vendetta has to face the consequences, “Badal, the five-time Punjab chief minister, said. He said the job of the government is to serve people and not indulge in political vendetta.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha dubbed the registration of FIR against Majithia as an election stunt of the ruling Congress. He said he had earlier said that a deal had been reached between SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi to arrest Majithia on the basis of a weak case.
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu welcomed the development, claiming, in a series of tweets, that it was possible due to his over five-year-long fight with the corrupt system run by Badal Family & Captain and a delay of four years due to inaction on the ED & STF report against Majithia. He termed the registration of the FIR a slap on the face of all those powerful who slept for years on issues at the heart of Punjab’s soul. The Punjab Congress chief has been pressing the Charanjit Singh Channi government to act on the big fish involved in the drug racket.
A few days ago, the Channi government was left embarrassed when a letter by Additional Director General of Police S K Asthana to the then state police chief Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota had surfaced on social media. Asthana had cited some legal hurdles in conducting reinvestigation in drug cases against Majithia.