M A I N   N E W S

Charges framed against CM
Gets bail in defamation suit filed by Sukhbir Badal
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
In a significant order, a local court today framed charges against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in a defamation case filed by the General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sukhbir Badal.

In her order, the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ms Paramvir Kaur Nijjar, framed charges under Section 500 of the IPC, counsel for Mr Badal claimed.

However, the Judge granted bail to Capt Amarinder Singh, who has been avoiding personal appearance in the court for several months now, on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 10,000 by Mr Tarlochan Singh. The Chief Minister, who was present in the court, pleaded not guilty to the accusations pertaining to Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC.

The court adjourned the case till January 15 next year for recording evidence of the complainant.

However, a Punjab Government spokesman, denying the framing of charges against the Chief Minister, said under a defamation case no formal charges were required to be framed as provided under Section 251 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1973.

It may be recalled that the Faridkot MP and SAD general secretary, had filed the defamation case against Capt Amarinder Singh for having alleged in the run-up to the 2002 Assembly elections in Punjab that the former Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had amassed property and assets worth Rs 3500 crore through corrupt means.

Terming the advertisement campaign launched by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), then headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, as “slanderous” Mr Badal said the prestige of the Badals had been lowered in the eyes of the general public.

The campaign, launched under the caption “The great Betrayal SYL” ahead of the 2002 Punjab Assembly elections, had levelled serious allegations against the Badals and the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

It detailed how Punjab’s water rights in the SYL canal were allegedly compromised by Mr Badal for getting land for the Orbit Resort of Mr Sukhbir Badal in Gurgaon.

Emerging from the district courts, an unruffled Capt Amarinder Singh told the media that his government’s campaign against corruption would continue and would be taken to its logical conclusion.

The Akalis, including the Badals, who had amassed huge wealth through illegal means, were taking shelter in courts, he said.

Answering a query on the defamation case against him, the Chief Minister, who was surrounded by hundreds of Congress workers, claimed that he had done nothing wrong and had only exposed the amount of wealth collected by the Badals when in power.

“If the Badals were honest, they should move an application before the court praying for time-bound judgment in the corruption cases against them”, he said, expressing concern at the slow pace of the Indian courts.

Commenting on the stay by the Supreme Court (SC) in the disproportionate assets case against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and members of his family, the Chief Minister said the government would pursue the case to its logical end.

The SC had recently issued a notice to the Punjab Government on a petition by Mr Badal, raising the issue of sanction from the competent authority to try him in the case.

Reiterating that the corruption charges against his family were “baseless”, a jubilant Mr Sukhbir Badal said they were levelled by the Congress with a view to capture power in the 2002 elections.

“The Chief Minister will have to pay a heavy price for launching a sustained campaign to lower the prestige of the Badals,” he said.

Expressing faith in the judiciary, Mr Badal hoped that the truth would come before the people.


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