Sunday,  December 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bhattal files plea on dropping charges
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 21
Cabinet Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today filed an application for dropping the proceedings against her in an alleged corruption and embezzlement case.

She was earlier booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the allegations of embezzling Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Ministerís Relief Fund in 1996.

Claiming that the case, registered against her by the Vigilance Bureau, was illegal, Mrs Bhattal submitted that sanction for her prosecution had not been sought from the competent authority i.e the Governor.

Giving details, she added that sanction to prosecute her was mandatory as she was a public servant when the case was registered in 1996 during her tenure as the Chief Minister. Even now she was a public servant.

Arguing on her behalf, a senior Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer challenged the jurisdiction of the Vigilance Department in filing the challan in a Chandigarh court. Alleging mala fied intention on part of the department, he asserted that the challan was filed on November 29, within three days after it was returned by a Bathinda court.

Mrs Bhattal, accompanied by her supporters and a battery of lawyers, today appeared in the Court of UT Additional District and Sessions Judge Balbir Singh at about 10.15 a.m. The arguments in the case continued for about 25 minutes during which a copy of the challan against her was handed over. After hearing the arguments the Judge directed Mrs Bhattal to file the reply in the case on January 23.

On the other Supreme Court advocate P.N Lekhi, accompanied by other advocates, appeared for complainant Balwant Singh Dhillon, an advocate-cum-senior vice-president of the Lawyers for Human Rights. He was asked by the court to argue the matter after the filing of the reply by Mrs Bhattal.

Later, Mrs Bhattal, while coming out of the court, refused to comment on the issue.

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