Wednesday, January 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Warrant against Bhattal
Chander Parkash and Jaswinder Paul Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 22
The case of corruption registered against a former Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, under Sections 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and 409 of the IPC for her alleged involvement in bungling of the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund, took a new turn today when a Special Judge issued non-bailable warrant against her.

Earlier, the Special Judge had issued summons against Ms Bhattal on January 2 for personal appearance in the trials of corruption case registered against her in his court on January 7. On January 7, the Special Judge adjourned the case to January 22, when Ms Bhattal did not appear. The Special Judge today issued non-bailable warrant when Ms Bhattal failed to appear in his court and fixed February 4, 2002 as the next date of hearing.

The corruption case against Ms Bhattal was registered on the complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, president of the Bathinda District Amateur Boxing Association, who had alleged that Ms Bhattal had misappropriated Rs 20 lakh after withdrawing the amount from the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund while she was the Chief Minister of Punjab in 1996. He alleged that Ms Bhattal never accounted for the money.

He claimed that he came to know about the misappropriation after he carried out a search of relevant documents. He was concerned with the amount as Ms Bhattal had promised to give the boxing association a portion of it for the construction of a hall.

On the complaint of Mr Dhillon the then Special Judge ordered the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, to conduct a probe into the matter. Subsequently, a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of IPC was registered against Ms Bhattal.

The Vigilance Bureau presented a challan pertaining to the corruption case against Ms Bhattal in the court of Additional Sessions Judge here on December 27, 2001 as the Special Judge was not available. The next hearing was fixed for January 2, 2002.

On January 2, the Vigilance Bureau officials, who had filed the challan in the court of Special Judge on December 27, 2001, moved an application for the return of challan on two grounds, including that the court of the Special Judge was the proper court where the challan should have been presented as the trial was to take place in the court under whose territorial jurisdiction the offence was allegedly committed. Moreover, the said amount was sanctioned and withdrawn by the accused from the government treasury at Chandigarh. As such, the offence was committed in Chandigarh in the territorial jurisdiction of the court of Special Judge, Chandigarh.

The second ground was that the accused was a member of legislature and a former Chief Minister of Punjab, and thus a public servant. It had come to the notice of investigating agency that permission/sanction for prosecution from the competent authority was a pre-requisite for taking congnisance as envisaged under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of CrPC, which had not been obtained from the competent authority.

Instead of returning the challan, the Special Judge ordered the registration of challan and issued summons against Ms Bhattal for her personal appearance in the court on January 7, 2002. On January 7, the Special Judge adjourned the case till January 22, 2002.

Another interesting turn was taken by the case when Mr Dhillon filed an application in the special court on January 5, 2002 for the return/rectification of challan presented by the Vigilance Bureau on December 27, 2001. He pleaded in the application that Vigilance Bureau had presented a defective challan and it would lead to the failure of case. He added that even the prosecution agency had admitted that they had presented the challan wrongly.Back

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