MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Supreme Court refuses to cancel Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira's bail in 2015 drugs haul case

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and KV Viswanathan said it was not inclined to interfere with the January 4 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granting bail to Khaira

PTI New Delhi Published 18.01.24, 07:26 PM
Sukhpal SIngh Khaira

Sukhpal SIngh Khaira File photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to cancel Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira's bail in a 2015 drugs haul case, rejecting the Punjab government's appeal challenging the high court's order granting him the relief.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and KV Viswanathan said it was not inclined to interfere with the January 4 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court granting bail to Khaira in a case registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and the Arms Act.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Punjab government had challenged the order in the apex court claiming the high court had not considered all facts of the case.

The bench told senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Punjab government, that though the allegations against Khaira were serious, it will not interfere with the high court order considering the facts and circumstances of the case.

Luthra submitted that during the earlier round of litigation, when Khaira had challenged the summons issued to him under section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the top court had said in December 2022 that the said provision could only be invoked before the pronouncement of the order after trial.

"The issue was on technical point and the matter ended there," Luthra said.

Justice Trivedi said when the matter had ended there, how did the special judge of the trial court ordered further investigation in the case.

"If Khaira was involved right from the beginning, why did you not include him in the charge sheet? He was only named as accused after the entire trial was concluded," the bench said.

Luthra said while the challenge to the summons under section 319 CrPC was pending, the apex court had stayed the proceedings against Khaira and the investigation did not proceed further.

"In this case, the only issue was whether section 319 CrPC could be invoked at the stage when the trial against other accused is over. This court said to that extent, the section could not be invoked. That is where the matter ends. But there was no consideration on the merits of the case," he added.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, appearing for Khaira, said after the section 319 issue was decided by the apex court and when the matter went back to the trial judge, Khaira was arrested.

He said Khaira challenged the orders including that of remand by filing a writ petition in the high court which was rejected. Khaira is now trying to have his special leave petition in the Supreme Court listed, Patwalia said.

Luthra said, "There was no question of closure of further investigation. Was there further investigation pending? Yes, there was. Did we act against him? No, we did not out of deference to this court." Justice Trivedi replied, "Where was permission granted to the special judge to order further investigation? Sorry. The allegations are serious but given the facts and circumstances of the case, we are not inclined." Luthra and senior advocate Harin Rawal again attempted to persuade the bench to cancel Khaira's bail, contending that the high court did not take into account the probe agency's apprehensions about Khaira intimidating the witnesses.

"The high court did not even look at the evidence collected by the Enforcement Directorate in a case registered against him in the same set of facts and circumstances,” he said.

Justice Trivedi said, "Sorry, Mr. Luthra. You should have been more careful, more vigilant and filed the charge sheet against him at the beginning on finding that he was involved." The bench then dismissed the appeal of the state government.

On January 4, Khaira, the MLA from Bholath assembly constituency was granted bail by the high court but was arrested in a fresh one related to alleged criminal intimidation.

Khaira was arrested in September last year in connection with the 2015 case, triggering accusations of political vendetta against the state's ruling AAP from the Congress.

He had been seeking bail after his alleged role in an NDPS Act case came to light during the probe by a special investigation team.

The drugs case was registered in March 2015 at Jalalabad in Fazilka. Nine people, including Gurdev Singh, allegedly a close aide of Khaira, were booked and convicted.

Police had seized two kg of heroin, 24 gold biscuits, a country-made pistol, a .315-bore pistol and two Pakistani SIM cards from them.

He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021 on charges of money laundering linked to the 2015 case. He was granted bail in the money laundering case in 2022.

In February 2023, the apex court had quashed the summons against Khaira in the 2015 case.

On January 15, a local court in Kapurthala district of Punjab, granted bail to Khaira in the criminal intimidation case.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT