Tuesday, January 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Case against Bhattal takes new turn
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 7
The case of corruption registered against former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal under Section 13 of the Prevention of the Corruption Act and Section 409 of IPC for her alleged involvement in bungling in the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund, took a new turn when the complainant, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, President, District Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda, moved an application in the court of Special Judge for rectification/return of challan presented in the same case by the Vigilance Bureau on December 27, 2001.

The Special Judge, who issued summons against Mrs Bhattal on January 2 for securing her personal appearance on January 7, has adjourned the hearing of case till January 22.

Earlier, Vigilance officials, who are making investigations in the case, after it was registered at the Vigilance Bureau police station, Ferozepore, on May 22, 2001 moved an application on January 2, 2002, in the court of Special Judge for return of challan which they presented on December 27, 2001.

Mr Khushi Mohammad, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, in an application moved in the court of Special Judge, pleaded that return presented in the same court against Mrs Bhattal should be returned as court of Special Judge, Chandigarh, was the proper forum where the challan should have been presented as the trials were to take place in the court under whose territorial jurisdiction the offence was committed.

The second ground taken by Mr Mohammad was that since Mrs Bhattal was a public servant as Chief Minister of Punjab when she allegedly committed the offence, it was necessary to take sanction for prosecution from the competent authorities before taking cognisance as envisaged under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of Cr. PC. The required sanction was not obtained from the competent authority.

Mr Dhillon, in an application moved on January 5, 2002, pleaded that a defective challan had been presented in the special court and it would lead to the failure of case initiated at his instance. He added that even the prosecution agency had admitted that the challan had been presented in this fashion by them.

A case of corruption was registered against Mrs Bhattal on the directions of DGP (Vigilance), Punjab. The then Special Judge ordered the Vigilance Bureau to make investigations into the complaint moved in his court in connection with the alleged misappropriation of Rs 20 lakh by Mrs Bhattal, which she withdrew from the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund in 1996 when she was heading the state government. The DGP (Vigilance), Punjab, ordered the registration of a corruption case against Mrs Bhattal when the local Vigilance Bureau office sent the orders of Special Judge to the higher authorities for further action.

Mr Dhillon in his application also mentioned that law required that a defect in the challan could be rectified lest the entire proceedings became an exercise in futility. There was no provision in the law, which prohibited such a procedure from being adopted. The Honíble Court had ample power to allow an opportunity to the prosecution to rectify the defect, which might prove fatal in the continuance or taking cognisance of the proceedings against the public servant.

The provisions of Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act were also mandatory in nature.

Everything was allowable in the code in the interest of justice and every defect of procedural could be rectified. It was always in the interest of justice that such rectification should take place at the initial stage to save harassment for the parties concerned.

That the apex court had also held that the petitioner was vitally interested in the prosecution of a case initiated by him even after the recording of FIR as a sequence of his petition. It was more so when the prosecution had acknowledged the vital defects which had crept in in the incomplete challan.

It was therefore prayed that the defective/incomplete challan put in by the prosecution without proper investigation and without obtaining proper sanction might be ordered to be withdrawn or rectified in the interest of justice.

It was further prayed that in the alternative the proceedings in the court might be stayed to allow rectification of challan or completion of proper investigations so that the proceedings might be culminated in accordance with law and irreparable loss might not accrue to the cause of justice.

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